Title: Satellite Mapping of Oil Spills in the East Mediterranean Sea
Citation: Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology p. A-1433 - A1440
Publisher: Global Network for Environmental Science and Technology (GNEST)
Publication Year: 2007
JRC N°: JRC37002
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC37002
Type: Contributions to Conferences
Abstract: Besides accidental pollution caused by ships in distress, different types of routine ship operations lead to deliberate discharges of oil in the sea. Illicit discharges are the greatest source of marine pollution from ships, and the one which poses a long-term threat to the marine and coastal environment. Reliable monitoring methodologies and continuously updated comprehensive information are key elements to create effective contingency planning. Satellite monitoring, in particular using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) observations, may represent an effective tool for complementing traditional aerial surveillance. The capability of SAR in detecting oil slicks over the sea surface is well known and proven since a long time. At the moment, a number of different factors have prevented the use of space-borne SAR as an operational and routine monitoring tool. They include concerns about the reliability, sustainability and cost effectiveness of a similar system. In this paper, the activities of the Joint Research Centre (JRC), devoted at supporting the operational use of space imagery in case of deliberate oil discharges as well as during emergencies due to large accidental oil spills, are presented. Concerning the operational pollution, a specific methodology for processing and interpreting a massive set of satellite images has been implemented with the ultimate goal of performing a systematic mapping of the possible illicit vessel discharges at continental scale. The results are stored and organized in a specific database, which is the starting point for further focused statistical assessment. Along with the presentation of the implemented methodology the achieved results for the East Mediterranean basin, covering the sea area between Egypt, Greece and Turkey are presented. The results collected so far are sufficient to demonstrate how the approach provides an extremely valuable source of information to assess on a solid observational basis the dimension of the operational oil pollution problem. The value of the approach is even higher in the areas, like East Mediterranean basin where a routine patrolling activity by aerial means is not executed. The activity may become a powerful tool for policy makers in order to verify the effectiveness of particular new actions and measures implemented to enhance the protection of the marine ecosystem against deliberate oil pollution.
JRC Institute:Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen

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