Sunlight helps clean up oil spills in the ocean more than previously thought

Sunlight may have helped remove as much as 17 percent of the oil slicking the surface of the Gulf of Mexico following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. That means that sunlight plays a bigger role in cleaning up such spills than previously thought, researchers suggest February 16 in Science Advances.

When sunlight shines on spilled oil in the sea, it can kick off a chain of chemical reactions, transforming the oil into new compounds (SN: 6/12/18). Some of these reactions can increase how easily the oil dissolves in water, called photodissolution. But there has been little data on how much of the oil becomes water-soluble.

To assess this, environmental

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