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Special Issue "Remote Sensing and Oil Spill Response: Leveraging New Technologies to Safeguard the Environment"

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2016)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Ira Leifer

Bubbleology Research International, 1642 Elm Ave, Solvang, CA 93463, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: oil slicks in the ocean; remote sensing; trace gas measurement; trace gas remote sensing; arctic processes; bubble processes; marine seepage
Guest Editor
Dr. Elijah Ramsey III

U.S. Geological Survey, Wetlands and Aquatic Research Center, 700 Cajundome Blvd., Lafayette, Louisiana 70506, USA
Website | E-Mail
Guest Editor
Dr. Bill Lehr

NOAA Office of Response and Restoration, Building 3, Room 2012. 7600 Sand Point Way NE. Seattle, WA 98115, USA
Website | E-Mail

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Large oil spills produce massive ecological, economic, and social damage, while more common small oil spills can lead to chronic environmental degradation and health concerns. Traditionally, remote sensing has played a small role in oil spill response, primarily that of detection; however, advances in sensors, algorithms, and computational power are enabling new technologies to play more important roles in oil spill response, monitoring, and mitigation.

This Special Issue seeks remote sensing papers in three focus areas:

  1. Coastal marine and inland waterway oil spill remote sensing
  2. Intertidal and terrestrial oil spill remote sensing
  3. Transitioning from academic oil spill remote sensing to operational applications.

This Special Issue will highlight the potential of oil spill remote sensing, revealed by technological development for novel applications (moving beyond detection), including oil thickness quantification, assessment of mitigation strategy efficacy, and ecological impacts (and recovery) monitoring and assessment. The goal is to present a strategy with a clear potential to exploit existent and quick-response data collections, which can be analyzed and transformed into timely information products, directly useable in the initial response, progressive clean-up, and long-term monitoring.

The extent and persistence of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill provided an unprecedented opportunity for data collection and algorithm development, which generally is not feasible during typical, far-shorter, oil spills. This Special Issue seeks papers that highlight new developments, including those arising from DWH; however, all papers must address (at a minimum in the discussion) application to other, more-typical, oil spills.

All manuscripts are expected to address key remote sensing issues of validation and uncertainty assessment, as well as data analysis approaches. Given that many key oil spill remote sensing datasets are not collected with validation data, manuscripts may satisfy this requirement by discussing such needs. In addition, any important ancillary data must be identified. More prosaically, manuscripts should include a discussion of a general road map to inform the reader how the remote sensing technology studied can be brought into the operational world to improve oil spill response.

1. Marine (coastal) and inland waterway oil spill remote sensing

Remote sensing of on-water oil spills are highly challenging due to the fluidity of the water surface, its dependence on meteorology, hydrology/oceanography, chemistry, and the difficulty of working in the marine environment. Traditionally, remote sensing has primarily aided detection, by identifying a contrast in sea surface characteristics, which is inferred due to oil; however, this is largely binary, triggering on thin sheens. This leads to a mismatch with the primary oil spill response need of addressing thick oil slicks. Recently, a range of new technologies has demonstrated capabilities to remote sense oil thickness (qualitatively or quantitatively). Manuscripts responsive to this focus should highlight applications that enable thickness discrimination, effective tracking, are diagnostic, and/or enhance confidence in interpretation by reducing false positives and negatives.

In response to several significant riverine oil spills in recent years, attention has focused on specific response needs for inland waterway spills. Rivers bring unique challenges and opportunities to remote sensing, manuscripts investigating this new concern are requested.

Given the massive challenges associated with Arctic oil spill response (from production or from shipping), manuscripts are strongly encouraged that focus on the application of remote sensing to meet critical oil spill response needs in the harsh Arctic environment, both in this focus area, and in the other focus areas.

2. Terrestrial, intertidal, oil spill remote sensing

 

Oil is introduced into the terrestrial environment during transport and pipeline failures, and inadvertent releases from offshore activities that wash ashore, as well as onshore extraction activities. Often the terrestrial landscapes affected by the spill are wetlands of numerous types that occupy a variety of morphologies and landforms maintained by a specific set of physical processes. Importantly, the ecological importance and sensitivity of these environments can benefit from remote sensing capabilities that can detect detrimental changes in the oil-exposed wetland flora before irreversible damage occurs.

Manuscripts are sought that address the complexity and sensitivity of these transition land–water zones, which requires special remote sensing capabilities that can track oil movement in convoluted tidal channels and embayment’s and into wetland forests, marshes, beaches, mudflats. Of particular interest are algorithms that provide timely detection. Additionally of interest are oil remote sensing studies of these complex terrestrial ecosystems, which can discriminate between vegetation and oil.

Oil spills resulting from land-based petroleum extraction activities are largely immobile (unlike ocean/river oil spills); however, remote sensing also can play a key role. Although oil near to the source likely is identified quickly, oil, far beyond the sources, can become hidden by the vegetation canopy, making the extent of the spill hard to determine. Investigations reporting on new remote sensing technologies that can respond rapidly to the relatively small-scale terrestrial spills are strongly solicited.

3. Transitioning from academic oil spill remote sensing application to operational

Information during most marine oil spills “ages” rapidly, such that interpretations generally have lost most of their value after half a day. Manuscripts responsive to this focus area are expected to highlight the specific adaptations needed for rapid remote sensing (existing or needed). The key need is for speed over accuracy; however, responders need to have confidence in interpretation including any critical ancillary data needed for interpretation. In addition, manuscripts that focus on the enabling the policies and programmatic structures that can facilitate this transition are strongly encouraged.

Dr. Ira Leifer
Dr. Elijah Ramsey III
Dr. Bill Lehr
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Remote Sensing is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Detection of Oil near Shorelines during the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(6), 567; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9060567
Received: 10 December 2016 / Revised: 22 May 2017 / Accepted: 26 May 2017 / Published: 6 June 2017
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (9202 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
During any marine oil spill, floating oil slicks that reach shorelines threaten a wide array of coastal habitats. To assess the presence of oil near shorelines during the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill, we scanned the library of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery [...] Read more.
During any marine oil spill, floating oil slicks that reach shorelines threaten a wide array of coastal habitats. To assess the presence of oil near shorelines during the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill, we scanned the library of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery collected during the event to determine which images intersected shorelines and appeared to contain oil. In total, 715 SAR images taken during the DWH spill were analyzed and processed, with 188 of the images clearly showing oil. Of these, 156 SAR images showed oil within 10 km of the shoreline with appropriate weather conditions for the detection of oil on SAR data. We found detectable oil in SAR images within 10 km of the shoreline from west Louisiana to west Florida, including near beaches, marshes, and islands. The high number of SAR images collected in Barataria Bay, Louisiana in 2010 allowed for the creation of a nearshore oiling persistence map. This analysis shows that, in some areas inside Barataria Bay, floating oil was detected on as many as 29 different days in 2010. The nearshore areas with persistent floating oil corresponded well with areas where ground survey crews discovered heavy shoreline oiling. We conclude that satellite-based SAR imagery can detect oil slicks near shorelines, even in sheltered areas. These data can help assess potential shoreline oil exposure without requiring boats or aircraft. This method can be particularly helpful when shoreline assessment crews are hampered by difficult access or, in the case of DWH, a particularly large spatial and temporal spill extent. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Fast Detection of Oil Spills and Ships Using SAR Images
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(3), 230; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9030230
Received: 29 October 2016 / Revised: 21 February 2017 / Accepted: 1 March 2017 / Published: 6 March 2017
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (5604 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper, we show the capabilities of a new maritime control system based on the processing of COSMO-SkyMed Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images. This system aims at fast detection of ships that may be responsible for illegal oil dumping. In particular, a [...] Read more.
In this paper, we show the capabilities of a new maritime control system based on the processing of COSMO-SkyMed Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images. This system aims at fast detection of ships that may be responsible for illegal oil dumping. In particular, a novel detection algorithm based on the joint use of the significance parameter, wavelet correlator and a two-dimensional Constant False Alarm Rate (2D-CFAR) is designed. Results show the effectiveness of such algorithms, which can be used by the maritime authorities to have a faster although still reliable response. The proposed algorithm, together with the short revisit time of the COSMO-SkyMed constellation, can help with tracking the scenario evolution from one acquisition to the next. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Marsh Loss Due to Cumulative Impacts of Hurricane Isaac and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in Louisiana
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(2), 169; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9020169
Received: 3 November 2016 / Revised: 12 January 2017 / Accepted: 13 February 2017 / Published: 17 February 2017
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (3466 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Coastal ecosystems are greatly endangered due to anthropogenic development and climate change. Multiple disturbances may erode the ability of a system to recover from stress if there is little time between disturbance events. We evaluated the ability of the saltmarshes in Barataria Bay, [...] Read more.
Coastal ecosystems are greatly endangered due to anthropogenic development and climate change. Multiple disturbances may erode the ability of a system to recover from stress if there is little time between disturbance events. We evaluated the ability of the saltmarshes in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, USA, to recover from two successive disturbances, the DeepWater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and Hurricane Isaac in 2012. We measured recovery using vegetation indices and land cover change metrics. We found that after the hurricane, land loss along oiled shorelines was 17.8%, while along oil-free shorelines, it was 13.6% within the first 7 m. At a distance of 7–14 m, land loss from oiled regions was 11.6%, but only 6.3% in oil-free regions. We found no differences in vulnerability to land loss between narrow and wide shorelines; however, vegetation in narrow sites was significantly more stressed, potentially leading to future land loss. Treated oiled regions also lost more land due to the hurricane than untreated regions. These results suggest that ecosystem recovery after the two disturbances is compromised, as the observed high rates of land loss may prevent salt marsh from establishing in the same areas where it existed prior to the oil spill. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A MODIS-Based Robust Satellite Technique (RST) for Timely Detection of Oil Spilled Areas
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(2), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9020128
Received: 31 October 2016 / Revised: 23 January 2017 / Accepted: 30 January 2017 / Published: 4 February 2017
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (5066 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Natural crude-oil seepages, together with the oil released into seawater as a consequence of oil exploration/production/transportation activities, and operational discharges from tankers (i.e., oil dumped during cleaning actions) represent the main sources of sea oil pollution. Satellite remote sensing can be a useful [...] Read more.
Natural crude-oil seepages, together with the oil released into seawater as a consequence of oil exploration/production/transportation activities, and operational discharges from tankers (i.e., oil dumped during cleaning actions) represent the main sources of sea oil pollution. Satellite remote sensing can be a useful tool for the management of such types of marine hazards, namely oil spills, mainly owing to the synoptic view and the good trade-off between spatial and temporal resolution, depending on the specific platform/sensor system used. In this paper, an innovative satellite-based technique for oil spill detection, based on the general robust satellite technique (RST) approach, is presented. It exploits the multi-temporal analysis of data acquired in the visible channels of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board the Aqua satellite in order to automatically and quickly detect the presence of oil spills on the sea surface, with an attempt to minimize “false detections” caused by spurious effects associated with, for instance, cloud edges, sun/satellite geometries, sea currents, etc. The oil spill event that occurred in June 2007 off the south coast of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea has been considered as a test case. The resulting data, the reliability of which has been evaluated by both carrying out a confutation analysis and comparing them with those provided by the application of another independent MODIS-based method, showcase the potential of RST in identifying the presence of oil with a high level of accuracy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Satellite Survey of Inner Seas: Oil Pollution in the Black and Caspian Seas
Remote Sens. 2016, 8(10), 875; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs8100875
Received: 5 June 2016 / Revised: 4 October 2016 / Accepted: 17 October 2016 / Published: 23 October 2016
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (17531 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The paper discusses our studies of oil pollution in the Black and Caspian Seas. The research was based on a multi-sensor approach on satellite survey data. A combined analysis of oil film signatures in satellite synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and optical imagery was [...] Read more.
The paper discusses our studies of oil pollution in the Black and Caspian Seas. The research was based on a multi-sensor approach on satellite survey data. A combined analysis of oil film signatures in satellite synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and optical imagery was performed. Maps of oil spills detected in satellite imagery of the whole aquatic area of the Black Sea and the Middle and the Southern Caspian Sea are created. Areas of the heaviest pollution are outlined. It is shown that the main types of sea surface oil pollution are ship discharges and natural marine hydrocarbon seepages. For each type of pollution and each sea, regions of regular pollution occurrence were determined, polluted areas were estimated, and specific manifestation features were revealed. Long-term observations demonstrate that in recent years, illegal wastewater discharges into the Black Sea have become very common, which raises serious environmental issues. Manifestations of seabed hydrocarbon seepages were also detected in the Black Sea, primarily in its eastern part. The patterns of surface oil pollution of the Caspian Sea differ considerably from those observed in the Black Sea. They are largely determined by presence of big seabed oil and gas deposits. The dependence of surface oil SAR signatures on wind/wave conditions is discussed. The impact of dynamic and circulation processes on oil films drift and spread is investigated. A large amount of the data available allowed us to make some generalizations and obtain statistically significant results on spatial and temporal variability of various surface film manifestations.The examples and numerical data we provide on ship spills and seabed seepages reflect the influence of the pollution on the sea environment. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Oil Droplet Clouds Suspended in the Sea: Can They Be Remotely Detected?
Remote Sens. 2016, 8(10), 857; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs8100857
Received: 4 July 2016 / Revised: 14 September 2016 / Accepted: 10 October 2016 / Published: 18 October 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (5031 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Oil floating on the sea surface can be detected by both passive and active methods using the ultraviolet-to-microwave spectrum, whereas oil immersed below the sea surface can signal its presence only in visible light. This paper presents an optical model representing a selected [...] Read more.
Oil floating on the sea surface can be detected by both passive and active methods using the ultraviolet-to-microwave spectrum, whereas oil immersed below the sea surface can signal its presence only in visible light. This paper presents an optical model representing a selected case of the sea polluted by an oil suspension for a selected concentration (10 ppm) located in a layer of exemplary thickness (5 m) separated from the sea surface by an unpolluted layer (thickness 1 m). The impact of wavelength and state of the sea surface on reflectance changes is presented based on the results of Monte Carlo ray tracing. A two-wavelength index of reflectance is proposed to detect oil suspended in the water column (645–469 nm). Full article
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