An oil map of the sea – a view from space


Scientists from the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology RAS have used radiolocation measurement data from the Radarsat and Envisat satellites to monitor oil pollution in the Yellow, East-China and Black seas and they have compiled maps of the oil pollution of these seas.

Having analysed the maps they have obtained, the researchers have established that there is most dirt in places of heavy shipping: it is practically the case that patches of oil and oil products are evenly spread along these shipping routes.

The oceanologists believe that in many seas there is an adverse ecological situation, for example in the Caspian and Yellow seas. Radiolocation of pollution from space is a good method to observe the state of oil films on the marine surface. Modern cosmic radiolocators are able to quickly and effectively estimate the thickness of an oil film, delineate the spots and track their movement. And so, maps of the spread of oil films in the Yellow, East-China and Black seas were created. What is of particular interest for Russian shipping, the majority of oil spots in the Black Sea that were detected is also tied to the routes taken by shipping; here places of accidental spillage were found along with sites where oil products are most frequently loaded and polluted ballast waters most frequently dumped from ships.