Science Service System

Summary of Proposal OCE1844

TitleVessel and oil spill detection in the Gulf of Taranto, Italy, based onX-band TerraSAR images (VOSTA)
Investigator Nico, Giovanni - Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), Istituto per le Applicazioni del Calcolo (IAC)
Team Member
Dr. Guccione, Pietro - Politecnido di Bari , Dip. di Ingegneria Elettrica e dell
Mr. Mascolo, Luigi - Politecnido di Bari, Dip. di Ingegneria Elettrica e della Informazione
Mrs. Zonno, Mariantonietta - Politecnido di Bari, Dip. di Ingegneria Elettrica e della Informazione
Dr. Cardellicchio, Nicola - Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), Istituto per Ambiente Marino Costiero (IAMC)
SummaryThe objective of this proposal is to use the high resolution polarimetricX-band TerraSAR images to study the problem of vessel and oil spilldetection in the gulf of Taranto. This is a 140 km long and wide bayin southern Italy characterized by the presence of an importantindustrial harbour, military establishments and oil pipelines. Forall these reasons, the whole area is characterized by a huge vesseltraffic and problems related to oil spill and pollution at sea whichaffects both the marine and coastline environments. Besidesvessel discharge operations, also natural phenomena can produceslicks at sea. Marine slicks are composed of two major types ofhydrocarbons, mineral oil including petroleum-based material andfilms from biological processes. Mineral oil comes from multiplesources including spills form ships and off-shore drilling platformsand pipelines, natural hydrocarbon seeps and discharge fromstorm-water urban run off. Mineral oils spread into thin layersthrough gravity and surface tension and evaporate and weather overtime. Biogenic films, also called surfactants (surface active agents)or natural films, are a viscous by-product of ocean plant and animalgrowth and decay. Theviscoelastic properties of the marine slick material dampen capillaryand small gravity waves through a decrease in surface tension and areduction in wind friction that both suppresses wave growth andincreases wave dissipation. Thus the smoothed slick-covered areasappear darker than the usually wind-roughened surrounding ocean inradar images. Over the sea, SAR detects variations in surfaceroughness that arise from varying wind speeds, wave-wave andwave-current interactions, and the presence of surface films. Themotivation for this project is to contribute to the understanding ofthe properties of slick at sea and their effects on the marine andcoastline pollution. To this end, the potential of polarimetricX-band high-resolution SAR images will be studied to develop newalgorithms for the detection of slicks at sea and correlate them tothe vessel traffic. The map of vessels at sea will be deriveddirectly from SAR images in order to detect also illicit dischargesoperated by vessel not identifiable by traditional coastal-basedsurveillance systems. Itis worththat the aim of this project is not to provide new tools for theautomatic vessel and oil spill detection by to use the case study ofthe Gulf of Taranto to study the potential of polarimetric X-bandhigh resolution SAR images to identify slicks at sea, discriminatebetween oil-based and biological slicks and to study the temporalevolution of slicks due to sea conditions. In fact, the whole area ofthe Gulf of Taranto is currently monitored by traditional techniquesto identify slick at sea and control the vessel traffic. Samples ofslicks are acquired and chemically analyzed. Furthermore, buoys atsea are used for the wind direction and speed measurement and thisinformation used to study the temporal evolution of slicks. Thisproject will lead to the following results: 1)Algorithms and software for the vessel and oil spill detection basedon polarimetric X-band TerraSAR images. 2)Tools for the discrimination between oil-based and biological slicksbased on in-situ data and modelling. Theresults of this project are expected to constitute a valuable toolfor monitoring of pollution at sea and in the definition ofmitigation or adaptation strategies.

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DLR 2004-2016