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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • satellite
  • oil monitoring
  • remote sensing
  • oil spill
  • Deepwater Horizon
  • synthetic aperture radar

Index Terms

  • 4275 Oceanography: General: Remote sensing and electromagnetic processes
  • 0480 Biogeosciences: Remote sensing
  • 4599 Oceanography: Physical: General or miscellaneous
  • 4262 Oceanography: General: Ocean observing systems



NOAA's Satellite Monitoring of Marine Oil

D. Streett

During the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) spill, NOAA imagery analysts in the Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB) issued more than 300 near-real-time satellite-based oil spill analyses. These analyses were used by the oil spill response community for planning, issuing surface oil trajectories, and tasking assets (e.g., oil containment booms, skimmers, overflights). SAB analysts used both synthetic aperture radar and high-resolution visible/near IR multispectral satellite imagery as well as a variety of ancillary data sets to map the surface oil location. Satellite imagery included Envisat advanced synthetic aperture radar (European Space Agency (ESA)), TerraSAR-X (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt), Cosmo-Skymed (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana), Advanced Land Observing Satellite (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)), RADARSAT (MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, Canadian Space Agency), Envisat MERIS (Medium-Resolution Imaging Spectrometer, ESA), SPOT (SPOT Image Corp., Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales), Landsat (NASA, United States Geological Survey (USGS)), Aster (JAXA, NASA), MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, NASA), and advanced very high resolution radiometer (NOAA). Ancillary data sets included ocean currents, winds, natural oil seeps, and in situ oil observations. SAB personnel also served as the DWH International Disaster Charter Project Manager (at the official request of the USGS). The Project Manager's primary responsibility was to oversee the acquisition and processing of satellite data generously donated by numerous private companies and nations in support of the oil spill response. All SAB DWH analyses, starting with one issued 5 h after the rig sank through the final one in August, are still publicly available at the archive on the NOAA/NESDIS website SAB has now acquired a 24 × 7 oil spill response capability and is addressing goals that will enhance its routine oil spill response as well as help assure readiness for the next spill of national significance.

Citation: D.Streett (2011), NOAA's satellite monitoring of marine oil, in Monitoring and Modeling the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: A Record-Breaking Enterprise, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 195, edited by Y. Liu et al., pp. 9–18, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2011GM001104.

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