Remote sensing techniques currently used to detect oil spills have not yet demonstrated their applicability to dispersed forms of oil. However, oil droplets dispersed in seawater are known to modify the local optical properties and, consequently, the upwelling light flux. Theoretically possible, passive remote detection of oil droplets was never tested in the offshore conditions. This study presents a field experiment which demonstrates the capability of commercially available sensors to detect significant changes in the remote sensing reflectance Rrs
of seawater polluted by six types of dispersed oils (two crude oils, cylinder lubricant, biodiesel, and two marine gear lubricants). The experiment was based on the comparison of the upwelling radiance Lu
measured in a transparent tank floating in full immersion in seawater in the Southern Baltic Sea. The tank was first filled with natural seawater and then polluted by dispersed oils in five consecutive concentrations of 1–15 ppm. After addition of dispersed oils, spectra of Rrs
noticeably increased and the maximal increase varied from 40% to over three-fold at the highest oil droplet concentration. Moreover, the most affected Rrs
band ratios and band differences were analyzed and are discussed in the context of future construction of algorithms for dispersed oil detection.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited