Working Group 4
Oil spill monitoring
by remote sensing
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CEARAC Projects Website on oil spill monitoring by RS HAB Reference Database Marine Environmental Watch Project Homepage Ocean Remote Sensing Portal site Cochlodinium Homepage CEARAC Projects


COASTMON project
Products supplied by the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC).


DISMAR - Data Integration System for Marine Pollution and Water Quality
DISMAR will develop effective decision support systems to manage pollution crises and other marine environmental alert situations. The system will integrate multi-source data and numerical models for use in forecasting and risk assessment and will be demonstrated for application scenarios such as oil pollution and HAB. These scenarios are selected because they can benefit significantly from use of Earth Observation (EO) data and are therefore of particular relevance for the "Global Monitoring for Environment and Security - GMES" initiative. The outcome of the project will be a prototype system demonstrating an end-to-end service chain, which can be implemented for operational use in any coastal and marine area.
ESA, Earth Watching, Oil Slicks, offers many illustrative examples of oil spills. Oporto, October 1994, Sea Empress, Wales 1996, North Sea July 1996, Brazil Oil Platform March 2001.
Oil Spill Statistics. Since 1974, the Federation has maintained a database of oil spills from tankers, combined carriers and barges. This covers all accidental spillages except those resulting from acts of war. The database contains information on both the spill itself (amount and type of oil spilt, cause and location) and the vessel involved.
Using ERS-1 SAR images for oil spill surveillance J. Lichtenegger, ERS Data Utilisation Section, ESA/ESRIN.
The Exxon Valdez spill from March 23,1989 is the largest ever in the United States, but ranks around 34th largest worldwide. Approximately 200 miles were heavily or moderately oiled. From Bligh Reef the spill stretched 460 miles to the tiny village of Chignik on the Alaska Peninsula. The web site is very comprehensive and is an excellent starting point for student reports on oil spills and pollution.
Sea Empress Oil Spill, Wales. The grounding of the crude oil tanker known as the Sea Empress in February 1996 resulted in the discharge of approximately 72,000 tons of oil into the sea along the coast of South-West Wales. The region is renowned for the beauty and diversity of its coastline. Many important shores suffered severe crude oil pollution.
Sea Empress Peter Dyrynda's site at Swansea University
Oil Spill Public Information Centre

Kongsberg Satellite Services
The current oil pollution monitoring service has been established in close co-operation with, and based on the requirements of, end users like the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT), and has proven to be a cost-effective improvement of their system.
The aim is to be able to serve the end users with information on possible oil pollution in less than one hour after satellite overpasses. KSAT is operational 24 hours a day, and both day and night passes are analyzed and information on potential oil spills are sent to the users in near real time.

EMSA  and Clean Sea Net
KSAT, with partners Telespazio (Italy) and EDISOFT (Portugal), provides a Pan-European service to the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), covering  European waters and providing  EU Member States with satellite -based monitoring and rapid reports of illegal discharges and accidental oil spills at sea, with a 30 minutes time-limit.
For a more effective monitoring European pollution control authorities are planning their other surveillance activities, dedicated aircraft equipped with radar (SLAR) and IR/UV scanner and coastguard vessels, in conjunction with the ordered satellite acquisitions. This helps to optimize the use of coastguard vessels and surveillance aircrafts, producing a more effective, also cost effective, surveillance plan.

Oil pollution monitoring.
Oil in the Sea III: Inputs, Fates, and Effects. The report, which is the third in a series, presents the most up-to-date estimates of major oil sources and makes recommendations to help policy-makers prioritize next steps for prevention and response.

LUKOIL"Satellite monitoring of the Southeastern Baltic Sea. Report 2004" Oil Pollution in the Baltic Sea (in Russian and in English)

REMPEC Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea
The predecessor of REMPEC, the Regional Oil Combating Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (ROCC) was established in Malta on 11 December 1976, in order to assist the Mediterranean coastal States in the implementation of the Protocol concerning Co-operation in Combating Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by Oil and Other Harmful Substances in Cases of Emergency (Emergency Protocol) to the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution (Barcelona Convention) . It was the first such Regional Centre in the world, set up within the framework of the Regional Seas Programme of UNEP.
Objectives and functions of REMPEC were further modified in November 2001 in order to reflect the new role of the Centre envisaged by the adoption of the new Protocol concerning Cooperation in Preventing Pollution from Ships and, in Cases of Emergency, Combating Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea (Prevention and Emergency Protocol).

OSPAR project
The OSPAR Convention is the current legal instrument guiding international cooperation on the protection of the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic. Work under the Convention is managed by the OSPAR Commission, made up of representatives of the Governments of 15 Contracting Parties and the European Commission, representing the European Community.
Our mission is to conserve marine ecosystems and safeguard human health in the North-East Atlantic by preventing and eliminating pollution; by protecting the marine environment from the adverse effects of human activities; and by contributing to the sustainable use of the seas.

Bonn Agreement - data concerning aerial surveillance are reported on:

Helsinki Convention - Data on aerial surveillance available at:

MAPRES is a pilot project which concerns the cooperation in the field of accidental or deliberate marine pollution, in particular the main activity relates to "Marine Pollution Monitoring and detection by aerial surveillance and satellite images" and cofounded under the "Community framework for cooperation in the field of accidental or deliberate marine pollution" Programme, European Commission, DG Environment.

CLEOPATRA (Chemical Effluent & Oil Pollution Alert and TRAcking): improved and enlarged the monitoring capabilities of the RAMSES system
The use of remote sensing data for the surveillance of wide geographic areas has been successfully demonstrated in previous EC funded projects such as ENVISYS, EU-MEDIN, OILWATCH, RAMSES, VASCO and GAIANET. CLEOPATRA aims at extending the range of applications of remote sensing to pollutants other than oil through the use of several spaceborne sensors and innovative processing.
A key factor in efficient intervention is accurate and timely information: detection of pollution spills, the propagation of slicks, coastal impact assessments and risk mapping.
CLEOPATRA, a Research project funded by the EC, addresses the problem of reliable detection, classification and displacement forecasts for sea pollution.
The objective of CLEOPATRA is an integrated chain, covering research on input data, modelling and the output interface, to supply an advanced service supporting prevention, assessment and treatment of oil and chemical marine pollution in waters of major European interest. It will support national and regional authorities and organisations concerned with coastal disaster emergency management.
The innovative features of CLEOPATRA come from technology and methodology.
The technology exploits multi-sensor Earth Observation data from new satellite platforms (ENVISAT/ASAR, ENVISAT/MERIS, RADARSAT, MODIS) together with traditional data sources
The methodology combines models of atmospheric, wave, hydrodynamic, and pollution propagation, reconciling data at varying scales to derive the key variables for a comprehensive final model of marine pollution.
Through the integrated use of Space Technologies, Meteo/Ocean Scientific algorithms and oil slick forecast modelling, CLEOPATRA improves and updates an existing pre-operational system (basically from the RAMSES project) to detect spills (oil and other pollutants), forecast slick propagation, and to assess coastal and marine environmental impact.

ECOOP project
The overall goal of ECOOP is to: Consolidate, integrate and further develop existing European coastal and regional seas operational observing and forecasting systems into an integrated pan- European system targeted at detecting environmental and climate changes, predicting their evolution, producing timely and quality assured forecasts, providing marine information services (including data, information products, knowledge and scientific advices) and facilitate decision support needs.

MarCoast (Marine & Coastal Environmental Information Services) delivers satellite-based services in the field of marine and coastal applications. Services integrate detection and monitoring technologies involved in water quality, oil spill and meteorological information into a durable network.
MarCoast is a three year GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) project funded by the European Space Agency.
Oil spill monitoring service.
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