Reducing the risk of oil spill disasters is essential for protecting the environment and reducing economic losses. Oil spill surveillance constitutes an important component of oil spill disaster management. Advances in remote sensing technologies can help to identify parties potentially responsible for pollution and to identify minor spills before they cause widespread damage.
Since 1983, Eurosense is elaborating and is continuously improving approaches and methodologies for oil spill surveillance. The fundamental principle consists in multi-data sensors fusion (optical, NIR, and radar) acquired at different scales (in-situ, airborne, spaceborne). The combination of geocoded data into a common spatial framework allows an easy cross-checking based on different physical mechanisms in the radio and optical windows of the electromagnetic spectrum. Practical experiences have been gained through projects related to refloating wrecks (e.g. Herald of Free Enterprise, 1987) and dredging.
Since the early 1990s, radar antennas onboard satellites have largely demonstrated their capabilities to map efficiently oil spills. In 2012, experiments have shown the possibilities to identify different types of oils based on full polarimetric analysis. However, the revisit time and the cost of the images have always been limiting factors. With the launch of the Copernicus program in October 2014 (delivery of the first image), a “game changer” appeared. Sentinel 1 a/b and Sentinel 2 are able to provide valuable information owing to their free availability, imaging capabilities, and their short revisit period over a same area. This has been demonstrated and illustrated in the presentation done on Thursday 29th September at the “Black Sea from Space Workshop”: SAR-Based Tools for Organic Pollutions Detection and Analysis.