CIRFA seminar 21 September: Observation of the Taylor Energy Oil Slick in the Gulf of Mexico using NASA’s UAVSAR L-band Airborne SAR Instrument

Date: Thursday 21 September, 13:30-14:30 – NB! New time!
Venue: CIRFA, Forskningsparken 3, 3rd floor, Tromsø

Observation of the Taylor Energy Oil Slick in the Gulf of Mexico using NASA’s UAVSAR L-band Airborne SAR Instrument

Cathleen E. Jones
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology & UiT The Arctic University of Norway

Abstract: Although radar has long been used for mapping the spatial extent of oil slicks, its capability for characterizing oil, e.g., to discriminate thicker from thinner oil or mineral slicks from look-alikes, is far less well defined.  However, recently SAR instruments with low noise floors have been shown to be sensitive to oil characteristics like the oil-to-water ratio, most notably using the NASA UAVSAR instrument during the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010. Building on that work, UAVSAR first participated in the NOFO OPV-2015 exercise in 2015, and then in November 2016 UAVSAR took part in a NOAA-led study that took place at the site of a persistent seep in the Gulf of Mexico associated with the Taylor Energy rig, which was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina.  The goal of the 2016 campaign was to use remote sensing to identify zones of thicker oil within the slick, which is the type of information that could enable more effective clean-up.   The objectives of the Taylor experiment were to validate and compare different remote sensing methods’ capabilities for measuring the thickness of oil within a slick on open water under environmental conditions typical of oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. In this presentation, we show the UAVSAR results for tracking oil transport in near-coast waters and for determining relative oil thickness within the slick.

Welcome to all!

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