04 November 2016 - Ocean Imaging's lastest peer-reviewed scientific paper on the characterization of oil spills during the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill
Characterization of surface oil thickness distribution patterns observed
during the Deepwater Horizon (MC-252) oil spill with aerial and satellite
Knowledge of the spatial distribution of oil thickness patterns within an on-water spill is of obvious importance for immediate spill response activities as well as for subsequent evaluation of the spill impacts. For long-lasting continuous spills like the 2010 3-month Deepwater Horizon (DWH) event in the Gulf of Mexico, it is also important to identify changes in the dominant oil features through time. This study utilized very high resolution (≤5 m) aerial and satellite imagery acquired during the DWH spill to evaluate the shape, size and thickness of surface oil features that dominated the DWH slick. Results indicate that outside of the immediate spill source region, oil distributions did not encompass a broad, varied range of thicknesses. Instead, the oil separated into four primary, distinct characterizations: 1) invisible surface films detectable only with Synthetic Aperture Radar imaging because of the decreased surface backscatter, 2) thicker sheen & rainbow areas (b0.005 mm), 3) large regional areas of relatively thin, “metallic appearance” films (0.005–0.08 mm), and 4) strands of thick, emulsified oil (N1 mm) that were consistently hundreds of meters long but most commonly only 10–50 m wide. Where present within the slick footprint, each of the three distinct visible oil thickness classes maintained its shape characteristics both spatially (at different distances from the source and in different portions of the slick), and temporally (from mid-May through July 2010). The region over the source site tended to contain a more continuous range of oil thicknesses, however, our results indicate that the continuous injection of subsurface dispersants starting in late May significantly altered (lowered) that range. In addition to characterizing the oil thickness distribution patterns through the timeline of one of the world's largest oil spills, this paper also details the extension of using high resolution aerial imagery to calibrate medium resolution satellite data sources such as USA's Thematic Mapper (30 m) to provide larger-scale spatial views of major spills, and discusses implications for utilizing such data for oil spill characterizations and spill response
22 July 2016 - NOAA Partners with OI to Advance Oil Spill Remote Sensing
In the effort to continue building upon remote sensing utilization experiences gained during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, NOAA is leading a multi-entity project to enhance future capabilities to map weathered oil and oil emulsions in future spills. The project is being funded by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and includes several novel advancements:
- For the first time, oil emulsions are being made on a relatively large scale at BSEE’s Ohmsett Tank facility allowing natural weathering under open sky and agitation using a wave maker;
- Image data acquisitions are coordinated to allow near-simultaneous collection of multisensory imagery from a fixed platform above the tank, an unmanned airborne vehicle (UAV), and aerial system on a helicopter at several different altitudes, and very high resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar and multispectral color imagery from satellites;
- Following an initial phase done at Ohmsett under controlled conditions, the multi-platform data acquisition efforts will also be done over naturally formed oil emulsions in the Gulf of Mexico.
One of the project’s main objectives is to provide directly intercomparable data from UAV, aerial and satellite images to better understand what quantifiable information can be confidently gained from each image data source. As part of the project, OI is also evaluating the operational potential of sensors imaging parts of the electromagnetic spectrum presently not included on our existing TRACS aerial system, particularly for characterizing the oil/water composition of floating emulsions.
27 March 2013 - OI’s Jan Svejkovsky Wins Multiple Awards for Scientific Paper
Ocean Imaging’s President – Dr. Jan Svejkovsky – is the primary author on a peer-reviewed paper published in the October, 2012 issue of the journal Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing (PE&RS): “Operational Utilization of Aerial Multispectral Remote Sensing during Oil Spill Response: Lessons Learned During the Deepwater Horizon (MC-252) Spill,” PE&RS, 78(10): 1089-1102. The paper details OI’s aerial oil spill mapping system and its multiple uses during the massive 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Early in 2013, the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) chose Svejkovsky et al.’s paper to receive two annual awards for its content and quality: the Boeing Award for Best Paper of the Year, and the John I. Davidson President’s Award (3rd place) for Best Practical Paper. Both awards include a cash prize and were presented on 26th March, 2013 at ASPRS’ Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. While Svejkovsky was not able to attend the ceremony, the awards were received on his behalf by Joseph Mullin – one of his co-authors and an ardent supporter of the OI oil mapping system’s development during his pre-retirement tenure at the US Minerals Management Service.
12 Nov 2012 - OI Teams with BP to Develop Next Generation Aerial Oil Spill Mapping System
Ocean Imaging has teamed up with BP to develop an advanced, yet simple-to-use aerial imaging system specifically configured to provide digital maps of oil spill extents and oil thickness distributions. Drawing on OI’s extensive past research and operational support experience, especially during the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010, OI’s researchers will assemble and test a highly portable multispectral hardware/software system that will enable image capture, oil characteristics classification, and electronic dissemination of the resulting map in near-real-time directly from the aircraft. Primary emphasis is on expanding the spatial coverage capabilities of the system, so that smaller spills can be quickly mapped in only one or two overflight passes and very large spills can be completely or near-completely covered in a single flight mission. Initial testing is planned for spring/summer 2013. The system will be small enough to enable its future use both in manned aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
08 Oct 2010 - OI Maps Oregon's Kelp Resources
Extending on its expertise in kelp resource assessments in California and Alaska, Ocean Imaging was contracted by the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to conduct a state-wide survey of kelp beds along the state's coast. Taking advantage of a combination of favorable low-tide, sun angle and clear weather conditions, the OI team acquired the needed imagery this week with its DMSC multispectral sensor. The Oregon Dept. of Forestry provided OI with an aircraft - a Partenavia Observer. In addition to spatially mapping kelp beds along the Oregon coast, OI will utilize multispectral algorithms developed in previous NASA-funded work in Alaska to quantify the amount of kelp present into actual biomass values. The ODFW utilized resident fishermen to collect actual field samples of kelp biomass in portions of some of the imaged kelp beds to be used for both calibrating the algorithms, and evaluate measurement error in the remote sensing-derived biomass assessments.
19 May 2010 - OI participates in Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response
On 5/1/2010 OI's oil spill mapping team was summoned to the Gulf by NOAA and British Petroleum to provide our capabilities during the vast response to the Mississippi Canyon 252 oil spill. NOAA has provided OI with one of it's Twin Otter aircraft on which OI mounted its multispectral color and thermal IR instruments. Guided by daily-changing imaging target priorities from the various Command Center groups, the OI team is flying daily (and sometimes twice-daily) missions, mapping the oil's extents, weathering state and thickness. So far, OI's data have been used to: 1) help provide input and validation data for NOAA's oil spill trajectory forecast models; 2) document the effects of surface and subsurface dispersant applications; 3) provide recognizance and documentation of the existence and thickness of oil at the far boundaries of the spill; 4) map oil reaching the shoreline.
The image data are processed while still airborne and immediately after touchdown. Fully processed oil state/thickness maps are disseminated to multiple Command Centers as they become available within 2-3 hours after the flight mission. A simplified map product specifically designed to help guide oil recovery vessels will also start being disseminated in near-real time this week. "Through our MMS research project, we were planning do conduct some testing and demonstrations in the Gulf this coming fall," said Ocean Imaging's president, Dr. Jan Svekovsky, "but fate quickly turned the planned demo into the real thing." OI's high resolution oil thickness mapping provides much needed information not obtainable from satellite images which generally cannot be used to discern and unrecoverable thin oil sheens versus thicker oil accumulations that can be skimmed or treated with dispersants.
08 Mar 2010- OI Receives US Dept. of Interior's "Cooperative Conservation Award"
OI's oil spill mapping work funded by the Minerals Management Service (MMS) and California Dept. of Fish and Game's Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) has been selected for the 2010 Cooperative Conservation Award by the US Dept. of Interior. The collaboration of federal (MMS), state (OSPR) and corporate (OI) teams has led to the development of new oil spill response technologies that have already improved response activities in several recent oil spills in California. The award ceremony will be conducted in Washington, DC in May, 2010
01 Mar 2010 - OI Aawarded SeaGrant Funds to Map Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
California Sea Grant has awarded OI a 3-year grant to generate a high resolution baseline data base of natural resources in estuarine, intertidal and shallow subtidal areas related to the newly created Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in North-Central California. The project also includes annual mapping of kelp beds over the entire region and persistence analyses aimed to establish the pre-MPA variability in kelp and estuarine resources using time series of historical and recently collected data. "We are very excited to become part of the MPA-related studies", said OI's president, Dr. Jan Svejkovsky. "We will be collaborating with numerous academic research teams who will get access to our aerial remote sensing technologies through this program."
17 Dec 2009 - OI receives New Funding for Oil Spill Mapping System Development
The US Minerals Management Service is providing new funding for further development and testing of OI's oil spill mapping system. The 16 month project aims to expand the use of the system into arctic environments and waters with very high sediment loads. The work will involve field tests along Alaska's North Slope and in the Gulf of Mexico. Cold water development work is also planned for winter months at MMS' Ohmsett facility in New Jersey where the relationships between oil film thickness in near-freezing waters and its signature in thermal IR imagery will be investigated.
02 Oct 2009 - OI maps M/V Dubai Star Oil Spill in San Francisco
On the morning of 10/30/2009 the M/V Dubai Star tanker was refueling approximately 2.5 miles south of the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco Bay. Around 7am the heavy fuel oil began escaping from the refueling system and into the Bay. A multi-agency response was quickly mounted and the Unified Command authorized OI to mobilize from San Diego and image the resulting spill. OI mobilized within 2 hours of the notice and imaged the spill on both 10/30 and 10/31 with its multispectral visible/thermal IR system. The processed GIS image data were made available to Unified Command via a web server within 30-40 minutes of image acquisition. The interactive server was developed by OI specifically for California's Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) in a previous project. The image-based products were used to guide recovery operations and to ascertain that all recoverable oil has been located. This is the second time that OI's newly developed oil spill imaging system was used operationally - the first time was in December, 2008 during a spill from an offshore oil rig in the Santa Barbara Channel, California.
01 Jul 2008 - OI to Map California's Kelp Beds
Ocean Imaging received a contract from the California's Dept. of Fish and Game to image and map the entire California coastline for kelp abundance. The annual survey will be conducted in the fall and early winter when kelp canopy tends to be at its maximum. Kelp beds and associated reefs are a very important habitat along California's coastline and the CDFG regularly monitors and manages this resource.
26 Jun 2008 - OI provides SST Images for NBC News
Ocean Imaging began providing NBC-San Diego (Channel 7) with weekly sea surface temperature images for their morning and evening news broadcasts. To assure an SST product even during periods of cloudy weather, OI utilizes specially developed multi-image compositing routines that combine cloudfree data from several satellite overpasses. In addition to ocean temperature, OI also provides NBC with ocean color and other images of interest to the public.
09 Nov 2007 - OI to Develop Real-time Oil Spill Response GIS System
Ocean Imaging received a grant from California's Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) to develop a GIS system to help disseminate information during response to oil spills. The system will be accessible to both field and office-based users through an ArcIMS web server. Even users in remote locations or aboard ships and aircraft will be able to access the information through wireless networks. The system will allow access to archived information such as shoreline sensitivity maps, as well as newly collected data such as satellite and aerial images. OI is also testing hardware and software that will enable the transmission of aerial image-derived oil spill maps into the system directly from the aircraft in-flight.