What happens when oil comes into contact with marine snow and what are the ramifications for Cook Inlet? To find out, CIRCAC is funding some of the logistical costs of "The Potential Role of Marine Oil Snow Formation and Oil-Suspended Mineral Particle Aggregation in the Fate of Spilled Oil in Cook Inlet, Alaska," a Master of Science project by Jesse Ross of the Coastal Response Research Center (CRRC) at the University of New Hampshire.

Marine snow is made up of biological aggregates that naturally form in the top layer of the ocean and settle to the seafloor. Extensive research has been conducted on minerals and sediments aggregating with oil slicks and dispersed oil. However, biological components such as marine snow present a new element that has only recently been studied as a transport mechanism following the Deepwater Horizon incident when significant percentages of spilled oil settled to the seafloor after mixing with marine snow. These finding suggests that both marine snow and minerals can be major pathways that warrant consideration during an oil spill response. An understanding of the existing conditions in areas of oil extraction could better inform decision making in the event of a spill.