River oil spills are generally more frequent and pose greater environmental and public health risk than coastal and offshore oil spills. However, the river oil spill research has received a negligible amount of academic attention in the past three decades, while at the same time the coastal and offshore oil spill research has expanded and evolved tremendously. This paper provides the state-of-the-art review of river oil spill modeling and summarizes the developments in the field from 1994 to present. The review has revealed that the majority of the gaps in knowledge still remain. Thus, there is a need for (i) experimental studies in order to develop and validate new models and better understand the main physicochemical processes, (ii) studies on inter-linking of the governing processes, such as hydrodynamics, advection–dispersion, and weathering processes, (iii) adaptation and validation of coastal and offshore oil spill models for applications in riverine environments, and (iv) development of river oil spill remote sensing systems and detection techniques. Finally, there is a need to more actively promote the importance of river oil spill research and modeling in the context of environmental and public health protection, which would form the basis for obtaining more research funding and thus more academic attention.
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