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Envisat monitoring changes in oil spill

Date:
May 4, 2010
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
The European Space Agency's Envisat has captured the changes in direction of the rapidly-growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as strong winds over the weekend pushed it around and hampered clean-up efforts.

In this radar image, acquired from Envisat's Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) on 2 May 2010 03:45 UTC (Saturday night local time), the oil spill is visible due east of the Delta National Wildlife Refuge extending into the Gulf of Mexico. The white dots are oil rigs and ships. Radar is especially suited for detecting oil spills because it works day and night, can see through clouds (unlike optical sensors) and is particularly sensitive to the smoother water surface caused by the oil.
Credit: ESA

The European Space Agency's Envisat has captured the changes in direction of the rapidly-growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as strong winds over the weekend pushed it around and hampered clean-up efforts.

In these latest images, the oil spill is visible due east of the Delta National Wildlife Refuge extending into the Gulf. The white dots are oil rigs and ships.

Wind can easily spread oil on the water, with the course determined by the wind's direction and speed. Following the explosion of the drilling rig on 22 April that produced the oil leak, the winds were blowing west-northwest. On Saturday winds were blowing from the southeast, pushing the slick toward Louisiana.

Envisat acquired these images from its Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) and Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) on 2 May 03:45 UTC (Saturday night local time) and on 2 May 16:10 UTC (Sunday morning local time), respectively.

Radar is especially suited for detecting oil spills because it works day and night, can see through clouds (unlike optical sensors) and is particularly sensitive to the smoother water surface caused by the oil. Depending on the situation, oil is harder to detect in optical satellite observations because the surface changes are not as pronounced.

To see the latest MERIS images of the oil spill, visit the MIRAVI website (http://miravi.eo.esa.int/en/). MIRAVI, which is free and requires no registration, generates images from the raw data collected by MERIS and provides them online quickly after acquisition.

The next ASAR and MERIS images of the oil spill are scheduled for 5 May, with the images being made available about two hours later.

Envisat images are being provided to US authorities immediately after they are acquired through the International Charter Space and Major Disasters. On 22 April the US Geological Survey, on behalf of the US Coast Guard, requested the Charter to provide rapid access to radar and optical satellite imagery of the oil slick.

Since then, Envisat MERIS and ASAR data have been provided in near-real time and have been used by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Charter is an international collaboration between space agencies to put satellite remote sensing at the service of civil protection agencies and others in response to natural and man-made disasters.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "Envisat monitoring changes in oil spill." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100503111529.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2010, May 4). Envisat monitoring changes in oil spill. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100503111529.htm
European Space Agency. "Envisat monitoring changes in oil spill." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100503111529.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

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