Solberg, AHS (2012). Remote Sensing of Ocean Oil-Spill Pollution. PROCEEDINGS OF THE IEEE, 100(10), 2931-2945.
Oil spills on the sea surface are observed relatively often. Pollution due to either accidents or deliberate oily discharges from ships represents a serious threat to the marine environment. Operational oil spill monitoring is currently done using a combination of satellite monitoring and aircraft surveillance. The combined use of satellite-based synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images and aircraft surveillance flights is a cost-effective way to monitor oil spills in large ocean areas and catch the polluters. SAR images enable covering large areas, but aircraft observations are needed to prosecute the polluter, and in certain cases to verity the oil spill. Traditionally, oil spill detection is based on single polarization SAR images. Oil spills can be discriminated from look-alikes based on a set of features describing the contrast, shape, homogeneity, source, and surroundings of the slick. Good performance is reported for single-polarization oil spill detection, but in certain cases the oil slicks cannot be discriminated from biogenic films. In the recent years, a number of studies have shown that polarimetric SAR can improve the discrimination between oil slicks and biogenic films. Several features computed from dual-pol or quad-pol images have been proposed. These include both quad-pol features like polarimetric entropy and anisotropy, mean scattering angle, polarimetric span, conformity coefficient, as well as the dual-pol features standard deviation of the copolarized phase difference and the copolarized correlation coefficient. As dual-pol SAR imagery is now available on a regular basis from Cosmo Skymed and TerraSAR-X, and quad-pol data are available from RADARSAT-2, polarimetric SAR can now be utilized on a more regular basis. Optical data from sensors like Aqua MODIS and ENVISAT MERIS can be a useful supplement under certain cloud-free conditions.