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A GIS approach to mapping oil spills in a marine environment

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A geographic information system (GIS) can contribute significantly to the correct interpretation of the slick signatures visible on synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images. Initially, GIS has proven to be an excellent management tool for resource assessment, oil spill response and planning, and damage assessment. The GIS approach to the problem of oil spill mapping includes integration of the geographical, remote sensing, oil and gas production/infrastructure data and slick signatures, detected by SAR, in GIS. Compiled from data from several sources including nautical maps, geodatabases, ground truth and remote sensing data, GIS allows the retrieval of key information, such as predicting oil spill locations, revealing offshore/onshore sources, and estimating the intensity of oil pollution. SAR and GIS technologies can improve the identification and classification of oil spills, leading to construction of the final product, an oil spill distribution map. This approach has been applied to oil spill mapping in the Sea of Okhotsk, the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. We conclude that the combination of GIS and SAR technologies provides an ideal solution for understanding the spatial/temporal distribution of oil spills in the marine environment and is considered as the core of the oil spill monitoring system.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: P. P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow 117997, Russia 2: Centre 'Almaz', NPO Mashinostroenia, Moscow Region 143966, Russia

Publication date: November 1, 2008

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