Science of Oil Spills Classes
A group of students work together during an SOS class.

Science of Oil Spills (SOS) classes help spill responders increase their understanding of oil spill science when analyzing spills and making risk-based decisions. They are designed for new and mid-level spill responders.

These trainings cover:

  • Fate and behavior of oil spilled in the environment.
  • An introduction to oil chemistry and toxicity.
  • A review of basic spill response options for open water and shorelines.
  • Spill case studies.
  • Principles of ecological risk assessment.
  • A field trip.
  • An introduction to damage assessment techniques.
  • Determining cleanup endpoints.

Most examples provided in the class relate to oil spills that have occurred in coastal and marine environments; however, much of this information applies regardless of the spill location (e.g., inland vs. coastal).

To view the topics for the next SOS class, download a sample agenda [PDF, 170 KB].

Where and When

SOS classes are held 2-4 times per year in different regions of the U.S. One course per year is held in the Spring at NOAA's Western Regional Center in Seattle, Wash. Class sizes are limited to allow for personalized instruction.

The next SOS class will be held the week of February 23, 2015 at the NOAA Disaster Response Center in Mobile, Alabama. Class will begin on Monday afternoon, February 23, and will conclude at noon on Friday, February 27. The application period for this class will be open until January 9. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance status no later than January 16, via email.

An SOS class has also been scheduled the week of April 27, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Class will begin on Monday afternoon, April 27, and will conclude at noon on Friday, May 1. The application period for this class will be open until February 27. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance status no later than March 13, via email.

Accepted applicants will be sent an email containing information about hotel accommodations in the area, a map and directions to the class location, as well as information regarding the field trip and other logistics.

Please be advised that SOS classes are not filled on a first-come, first-served basis. NOAA ERD tries to diversify the participant composition to ensure a variety of perspectives and experiences to enrich the class for the benefit of all participants. Classes are generally limited to 40 participants.

An additional SOS class will be held in Seattle, Washington in summer 2015. Course dates will be posted as they are determined.

Application Form

There is no tuition for SOS classes; however, attendees are responsible for their own travel costs.

Online Application: The application period for the next two classes are as follows:

  • For the February 23-27, 2015 SOS class in Mobile, Alabama: Application period is open until January 9.
  • For the the April 27-May 1, 2015 SOS class in Houston, Texas: Application period is open until February 27.

If you experience any problems with the submission of your application, please send us an email.


Questions: Contact us with questions, comments, or suggestions about SOS classes.

Stay Updated: If you'd like to receive updates about OR&R's activities and events, including SOS classes, subscribe to our monthly newsletter.


Go back to the Workshops page.