2000-2005 News Items
09 Apr 2005 - OI Funded by Minerals Management Service to Expand Oil Spill Sensing Research
The Minerals Management Service recently awarded Ocean Imaging a research grant for developing and testing capabilities to quickly map the thickness of oil films on the ocean surface using a portable 4-channel aerial imager. Accurate estimation of oil film thickness during an oil spill is extremely important for calculating the total volume of oil spilled, and also for deciding which clean-up method to utilize. Unfortunately, several former techniques to measure oil thickness from overflying aircraft have either failed or the instrumentation is so complex and bulky that it cannot be routinely deployed during an oil spill emergency. OI's work will aim to establish robust relationships between oil thickness and its reflectance in 4 specially chosen wavelengths. Tests will be conducted over natural oil seeps in Southern California as well as at MMS' Ohmsett testing facility in New Jersey. The project's results should allow MMS, Coast Guard and state agencies to gain operational oil spill thickness measurement capabilities with economical and easy-to-deploy instruments.
05 Apr 2004 - OI to Investigate Oil Spill Recognizance with Aerial Imaging
Ocean Imaging has received funding for development of methodologies to detect a variety of hydrocarbon compounds on water and oil-impacted soils on land with its highly portable DMSC aerial imager. The two year project, funded by the California Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response, will focus on fine-tuning easy-to-deploy, economical aerial imaging systems to detect oil spills or illegal dumps as well as map damage in coastal habitats caused by beached oil. "We've had several instances when we captured oil and fuel spills by chance during flights for other projects," said Jamie Kum, OI's aerial data acquisitions engineer. "This project will help us maximize the system's detection efficiency." The long-term goal is to develop methodology which would allow oil response agencies such as OSPR to find oil spills and help guide recovery operations in an effective but cost-efficient matter. The project includes a demonstration during which imagery will be acquired, processed aboard the aircraft and disseminated to ground crews in near-real-time via satellite telephone.
06 Nov 2003–OI Receives New NASA Funding
In late October ’03 Ocean Imaging has been awarded a $500,000 grant by NASA to generate a global map of kelp reef communities and study their vulnerability to changes. While considerable research attention is already placed on the effects of changing climate upon tropical coral reef habitats, there is practically no information on how global changes are affecting temperate reef communities. Many such habitats are dominated by kelp forests which are sensitive to changes in water temperature, turbidity and nutrient concentrations. Ocean Imaging will utilize a worldwide Thematic Mapper image data base processed by EarthSat Corporation to create a first-time global map of kelp reefs as they existed in the year 2000. This data base will then be used to compare with older as well as most recent regional data to quantify ecosystem changes in different world areas. This project fits well into NASA’s present research emphasis on studying how the Earth is changing and what the consequences are.
08 Jul 2003 – Ocean Imaging Receives 2-year Extension on Water Quality Monitoring Contract
Following a very successful first year of utilizing remote sensing to supplement traditional field-based water quality monitoring programs in the San Diego/Tijuana, Mexico region, Ocean Imaging has received a 2-year contract extension for continuing the work. The project is jointly funded by the California Water Quality Control Board and operators of two regional offshore sewage outfalls. It represents the first time that a remote sensing component is a formal part of offshore outfall discharge permit specifications. OI utilizes several different types of satellite data but relies heavily on regular overflights with its DMSC multispectral aerial sensor. “The DMSC overflights have three major advantages,” explains Dr. Jan Svejkovsky, OI’s President. “First, we have customized the sensor’s 4 channels for wavelengths that maximize outfall plume detection and allow spectral separation of different types of effluent sources. Second, cloudy weather is not as big a problem as with satellites, because we can often fly under them. Third, most of the time we can fly on a moment’s notice to track a spill or some other event.”
The project's major accomplishments in its first year were the establishment of plume trajectory patterns from the outfalls and several important terrestrial sources under various ocean conditions, the ability to document the true sources of beach contamination events uncovered by traditional field sampling, and the mapping of each effluent source’s spatial extents to better understand and forecast the associated contamination risks.
05 May 2003 – OI Begins Study of Bering Sea Environmental Variability
OI began work on a federally and state funded research project aiming to define whether environmental variations in the Bering Sea over the past 20 years have played a role in the devastating drop in salmon stocks along its Alaskan shores. Local commercial and subsistence fisheries have been virtually wiped out, and the Norton Sound and Kuskokwim Bay areas have been declared federal disaster regions since the late 90s. There are numerous theories on why the salmon disappeared, ranging from overfishing to deadly plankton blooms, to overabundance of killer whales. It is not even known if the main causes are based on land – in the streams where the salmon get born and spawn, or in the sea – where they spend much of their life. OI will use several types of satellite data to examine the sea environment and to document any changes coinciding with the salmon population declines on several different spatial and temporal scales.
This project, funded by the National Science Foundation was done in cooperation with researchers from Oregon State University and U. of Maine
This NASA-funded project ended in 2002 but the developed technologies led to operational monitoring programs funded by other federal, state and local agencies. The project targeted the development of novel applications of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data in the coastal zone.