Oil spill monitoring

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The ability to remotely detect and monitor oil spills at sea is becoming increasingly important due to the threat that such pollution poses to marine wildlife and the ecosystem. As the demand for oil based products increases, shipping routes will consequently become much busier, the likelihood of slicks occurring is increasing. If applied correctly, remote sensing can act as an important monitoring tool. It can provide early detection of slicks, provide size estimates, and help predict the movement of the slick and possibly the nature of the oil. This information will be invaluable in aiding clean up operations, and consequently help save wildlife and the balance of the local ecosystem, provide damage assessment and help to identify the polluters.

Remote sensing allow to monitor oil spills, main technologies are satellite remote sensing and airborne remote sensing.

Satellite remote sensing Due to the nature of an oil slick a satellite remote sensing platform is required to have the following:

  • High temporal resolution, due to the changing nature of the oil and its immediate threat to ecosystem,
  • The ability to image a given area regardless of cloud cover and prevailing weather conditions (even time of day),
  • High spatial resolution, to identify individual small oil patches (windrows),
  • Wide spectral resolution, as the position and width of the spectral band is important in distinguishing the oil from the adjacent water.

At the present, no existing remote sensing platform, in space or airborne, can meet all of the above requirements. Techniques are described in http://cearac.poi.dvo.ru/en/background/techniques/

  • Visible spectrum
  • Thermal infrared
  • Passive Microwave
  • Active Microwave Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images. SAR seems to be one of the most suitable instruments to the detection of slicks since slicks damp strongly short waves measured by SAR and oil spills appear as a dark patch on the SAR image. SAR observations do not depend on weather (clouds) and sunshine, which allows showing illegal discharges that most frequently appear during night. SAR can also survey storms areas, where accident risks are increased.

Airborne oil spill monitoring Airborne oil spill monitoring has become a global concern during the last three decades. Currently there are a multitude of specialized airborne remote sensing systems all over the world, which are operated for this purpose, especially for the deterrence of potential polluters and the support of oil spill clean-up activities. In the 1970s and 1980s the main effort has been directed towards developing sensors with enhanced spill monitoring capabilities which explains the large number of existing well-established oil spill remote sensors like infrared/ultraviolet line scanners, microwave radiometers, laser fluorosensors, and X-band radar systems. Recently, more attention has been paid to the automated processing of remotely sensed oil spill data acquired by airborne multi-sensor platforms in terms of data analysis and fusion. Using satellite platforms to monitor oil slicks is more cost effective than applying airborne monitoring techniques but airborne monitoring can be complementary to satellite. Existing users are positive to a combined satellite and airborne monitoring service.

External links

http://earth1.esrin.esa.it/ew/ http://esapub.esa.int/eoq/eoq44/lichten.htm http://www.nrsc.no/COASTMON/Products/oilspill.html http://seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/OCEAN_PLANET/HTML/peril_oil_pollution.html http://ramses.esrin.esa.it/ http://www.itopf.com/stats.html http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/spotlight/spotlight.html http://www.swan.ac.uk/empress/index.htm http://www.swan.ac.uk/empress/oil/oil.htm http://www.nrsc.no/COASTMON/Products/oilspill.html http://www.nersc.no/HABILE/ http://www-cenerg.cma.fr/eng/tele/cseas/welcome.html http://desima.jrc.it/ http://www.nersc.no/Projects/dismar/ http://intelligence.jrc.cec.eu.int/ http://www.iceonline.net/home/garryl/oils/esoilspl.html http://www.geog.ucl.ac.uk/~salmond/essay.html http://oils.gpa.unep.org/ http://www.memac-rsa.org/ http://www.satobsys.co.uk/CSeas/ http://www.unep-wcmc.org/latenews/emergency/ http://marsais.ucc.ie/ http://oceanides.jrc.cec.eu.int/ http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/ http://www.ropme.net/default.asp http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/pgulf.html