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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • oil spill
  • remote sensing
  • SST
  • thermal IR
  • hyperspectral
  • SAR

Index Terms

  • 4594 Oceanography: Physical: Instruments and techniques
  • 4262 Oceanography: General: Ocean observing systems
  • 4294 Oceanography: General: Instruments and techniques
  • 4275 Oceanography: General: Remote sensing and electromagnetic processes



Absolute Airborne Thermal SST Measurements and Satellite Data Analysis From the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

W. S. Good

Ball Aerospace, Boulder, Colorado, USA

R. Warden

Ball Aerospace, Boulder, Colorado, USA

P. F. Kaptchen

Ball Aerospace, Boulder, Colorado, USA

T. Finch

Ball Aerospace, Boulder, Colorado, USA

W. J. Emery

Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA

A. Giacomini

Informatics Department, Tor Vergata University, Rome, Italy

Rapid assessment and continuous monitoring was critical to addressing the changing conditions in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Airborne, satellite, shipborne, and underwater sensors were all used with data being assimilated as actionable reports. To assist with the recovery effort and evaluate the utility of new sensors for oil spill response, Ball Aerospace sent a team of scientists and engineers to the Gulf in July 2010. The team deployed on a Twin Otter aircraft with a suite of sensors including a thermal imaging radiometer, UV to visible hyperspectral imaging radiometer, and a visible high dynamic range context imager. All three sensors were operated at the same time with overlapping fields of view to assist with targeting and characterization of the oil. Data was also gathered from satellite synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and optical sensors during the same time and analyzed to determine additional capabilities from these sources. The UV and thermal imaging capabilities demonstrated were unique when compared with other airborne sensors flown over the spill. In the optical spectral range, imagery from the WorldView 2 satellite operated by DigitalGlobe was utilized, while SAR imagery was collected by the TerraSAR-X, COSMO-SkyMed (also X-band), and the Envisat Advanced SAR (ASAR, C-band). This combination of optical and radar imagery proved very useful in being able to map oil features on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. Results of the thermal measurements are presented along with a discussion of the other sensor data used to further characterize the spill.

Citation: Good, W. S., R. Warden, P. F. Kaptchen, T. Finch, W. J. Emery, and A. Giacomini (2011), Absolute airborne thermal SST measurements and satellite data analysis from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, 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. 51–61, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2011GM001114.


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