News of the WeekGulf Oil Disaster

Five Questions on the Spill

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Science  21 May 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5981, pp. 962-963
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5981.962

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Sizing up the weeks-long spill in the Gulf of Mexico and its impacts is proving a challenge for marine and coastal scientists. The source is beneath 1600 meters of seawater, the winds and currents spreading the oil can be capricious, and the marine life in the oil's path is spread over hundreds of square kilometers, from the sea floor to the surface. Commercial fisheries have already been affected, and fragile coastal marshlands are at risk. Just monitoring all these ecosystems is the first challenge; gauging the toll taken and sounding the all clear will come later. Scientists will be trying to answer five key questions over the coming months and years.