Accidents at sea are not uncommon, once in a quarter, we keep hearing about oil spills resulting in a massive loss of marine life. Oil spills can rapidly contaminate fishing waters and can cause substantial social impacts. Oil fires can cause breathing difficulties and even deaths. Quick action against spreading of these spills can reduce the damages. Here we discuss on the Remote Sensing Technique that was used to detect and monitor the oil spill that happened in Indonesia (Java) from July to October 2019.

SkyMap Global utilized both optical and RADAR based Satellite Images to trace and track the oil spill. Our SAR imagery can be used during night or day to get scientific reports on changes in the sea and the land. It can by-pass cloud cover and can be used during any weather condition. Our imagery services save cost and manpower to give you a bird’s eye view of what is happening on the Earth surface. Our Machine Learning (ML) solutions automatically highlight changes without the need for visual comparison.

Comparison between optical and dual polarimetric image

Recently SkyMap Global’s team of processing experts have implemented a polarimetric analysis use for oil spill and emulsion detection. Previously, RGB images of the black oil slicks with a blue background corresponding to the sea was used. You can see the comparison between RGB images and dual polarimetric images above. The result of the polarimetric analysis shows the degradation at the periphery of the slicks. This result is very pertinent. We used dual-pol of Sentinel-1 to make the distinction between oil without bubbles of water and oil with bubbles (named emulsion). When optical imagery is used, it is challenging to manage and extract oil slicks as when oil slicks become older, bubbles of water start to get mixed with oil. Radarsat is another satellite which can provide four polarization states. If we use Radarsat, it can provide details to a greater degree. With four polarization states, we can even identify the different types of oil.

Case study

The incident started on July 12, 2019, when natural gas was released during drilling at one of its wells in Indonesia. Three days later, it was declared an emergency and on July 16, a layer of oil began to rise to the surface of the sea, in addition to gas bubbles.

9th July SAR data, 3 days before the event
21st July SAR data, 10 villages and 7 beaches affected by the spill
24th July Optical Imagery showing the extent of spread

Both SAR and Optical satellite data has been proven effective in identifying the extent of emulsion and oil spill. Cleaning ships can be guided using this information and with GPS installed onboard, the cleaning process can be managed effectively and digitally. It is in SkyMap Global’s best interest to use our resources to help environments globally. We are working with full passion to help societies reduce negative impacts from natural disasters and other catastrophes.

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