Monitoring large oil slick dynamics with moderate resolution multispectral satellite data

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Accidental release of crude oil into the sea due to human activity causes water pollution and heavy damages to natural ecosystems killing birds, fish, mammals and other organisms. A number of monitoring systems are used for tracking the spills and their effects on the marine environment, as well as for collecting data for feeding models. Among them, Earth observation technologies play a crucial role and moderate spatial resolution satellite systems are able to collect images with a very short revisit time or even daily. This paper describes the use of Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer data for monitoring large oil slicks with the fluorescence/emissivity index and object-based image analysis. Two case studies are presented: the Deepwater Horizon (2010) and the Campos Basin (2011) oil spill accidents. Results show that it is possible to track the dynamics of the slick both for massive and long-lasting accidents and for smaller and very quick accidents. The main advantages of the method proposed are a straightforward implementation, a fast and semi-automated data processing and the capability of integration of daytime and nighttime acquisitions, as well as its adaptability to different sensors. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

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Natural Hazards