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Current and future missions of spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensors are expected to capitalize on the all weather day and night imaging capability. Under this possibility many countries are considering the use of oil spill detection systems, based on spaceborne SAR images, in order to survey and monitor extended sea areas, as a first step in stopping oil spill pollution. The effectiveness and capabilities of such systems are investigated in this study. A theoretical consideration of the hydrodynamic aspects of the problem has been carried out, and is presented in the first part of this document. An approach to studying the response of the gravity-capillary spectral region of the ocean waves when spills are present is developed, and a functional model is constructed. Using this model the Bragg radar backscatter contrast between a spilled and a clean sea surface is computed, as a function of wind speed and wave number. In the light of the theoretical results, signature singularities of oil spill expressions on Earth Resource Satellite (ERS)-1 SAR imagery are discussed, and statistical methods are proposed. By studying a number of ERS-1 SAR images acquired mostly over the European coastal zone (with emphasis in Mediterranean sea) the capability of the ERS 1/2 SAR in large area oil spill monitoring is demonstrated.

Additional information

Authors: PAVLAKIS P, JRC Ispra (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 16351 EN (1995) 64pp., FS, free of charge
Availability: Available from the Public Relations and Publications Unit, JRC Ispra, I-21020 Ispra (IT)
Record Number: 199610432 / Last updated on: 1996-05-20
Original language: en
Available languages: en
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