Satellite detection of oil spills in the Great Barrier Reef using the Sentinel-1, -2 and -3 satellite constellations - A technical assessment of a synergistic approach using SAR, optical and thermal information

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Blondeau-Patissier, David; Schroeder, Thomas; Irving, Paul; Witte, Christian; Steven, Andy


2020-02-04


Report


95


This technical document reports on the Advance Queensland (Early Career Research grant AQRF00115-16RD1) and CSIRO Ocean Atmosphere (OA) funded strategic research undertaken over a three-year period spanning June 2016 - June 2019. This research falls under the project entitled “Satellite Detection of Marine Pollution in the Great Barrier Reef”. This research, led and largely funded by CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, was conducted in close cooperation with two industry partners, the Department of Environment and Science (DES, Queensland State Government) and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA; National agency). As shown by many past events worldwide, the most known being the British Petroleum (BP) Deep Water Horizon (DWH) accident in the Gulf of Mexico in August 2010, marine pollution from illegal discharges, ship or platform accidents causes devastating short- and long-term environmental impacts, including site contamination and physical damage. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR), used as a pilot region for this research, is facing several considerable environmental threats from increased industrial coastal development and ship traffic. Recognized as a high-risk area for oil spills by AMSA, the heavy fuel oil (HFO) pollution that resulted from incidents which occurred in 2009 and 2010 had severe consequences for the GBR. Even more insidious are illegal discharges from ships and drilling platforms because not officially reported unless detected, and the GBR is not exempt to such incidents. In July 2015 for example, a series of illegal discharges contaminated the shores south of Townsville (Cape Upstart). Illegal oil discharges are not currently monitored routinely in the GBR and may be more frequent than anticipated. CSIRO, in partnership with AMSA, has a designated, multidisciplinary Oil Spills Response Team, with CSIRO staff mostly based in Tasmania and Western Australia. The CSIRO Oil Spills Response Team is tasked to provide support during oil spill incidents within Australia’s maritime jurisdiction. CSIRO has several research activities1,2 related to offshore oil and gas exploitation, and a recently published handbook on monitoring oil spills, the “CSIRO Oil Spill Monitoring Handbook”, offers expert guidance on how to respond to an oil spill and assess any environmental damage (Revill et al., 2016). In the context of satellite remote sensing, oil spills are best detected using synthetic aperture radar (SAR), but additional information provided by coincident optical (e.g., Sentinel-2 MSI, Sentinel-3 OLCI) and/or thermal (e.g., Sentinel-3 SLSTR) satellite sensors provide valuable “second opinions” to reduce false- positives. The main scope of this research was to develop SAR capability in CSIRO OA and to use coincident SAR, optical and thermal satellite imagery from the European Space Agency (ESA) Sentinel constellations to detect and monitor accidental oil spills, or illegal discharges of oil along the GBR. The synergy between satellite sensors is both novel and timely: novel because such a system does not currently exist in Australia at an operational level, and timely because of the near-coincident, high spatial and temporal resolutions information provided by the Sentinel satellites was not available to the research community until 2014 when the Sentinel missions started. The synergistic use of SAR, optical and thermal satellite information for oil spills detection is a leap forward for the research community, because the complexity of oil spill detection lies in the difficulty to discriminate true oil slicks from falsely classified look-alikes (false alarms) caused by natural biogenic surface films (e.g., algal blooms), wind shadows, bathymetry or rain cells. This report provides a detailed overview of the research undertaken, its methodology and findings in the context of oil spills monitoring in Australian waters.


CSIRO


Brisbane, Australia


SAR; Sentinel; Copernicus; Great Barrier Reef; synergy; oil pollution; coastal monitoring; European Space Agency


Physical Oceanography; Environmental Monitoring; Environmental Management


Published Version (pdf) (7.33MB)


https://doi.org/10.25919/5e46e030e3029


This report has been placed on the CSIRO repository and may be made available to persons outside of CSIRO for non commercial purposes, in its entirety and without deletion of disclaimers and copyright information.


Funding Body NameProject/Grant ID
Queensland. State GovernmentAQRF00115-16RD1


EP197797


Technical Report (Author)


English


9781486313389


Blondeau-Patissier, David; Schroeder, Thomas; Irving, Paul; Witte, Christian; Steven, Andy. Satellite detection of oil spills in the Great Barrier Reef using the Sentinel-1, -2 and -3 satellite constellations - A technical assessment of a synergistic approach using SAR, optical and thermal information. Brisbane, Australia: CSIRO; 2020. https://doi.org/10.25919/5e46e030e3029



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