Mapping of Oil Pollution in the Mediterranean Sea Near the entrance of Suez Canal Using Sentinel-1 SAR Images

Suez Canal, being a main international Maritime shipping route, experiences frequent events of oil pollution. But there is ways to manage this from the space thanks to space-borne radar. Explanations of NARSS.

Oil pollution is harming the marine ecosystem and creates pressure on the coastal socio-economic activities particularly at the area of study at Port-Saeidcity. It is anticipated that the damage of oil spills is not only during the event but it extends for a long time and normally requires more efforts to remediate and recover the environment. The source of pollution is mainly from illegal discharges from vessels that represent nearly 45% of sea oil pollution worldwide. Unfortunately, most of these pollution events are small in size and not easily observed by environment agencies or local authorities. Early detection of these spills is the first and most important step for a successful clean-up operation.

Example of SDP1 for a detected case of oil spill in the Mediterranean Sea using Sentinel-1 Radar data

This study focuses on the use of space-borne Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images for oil spill detection and mapping to be an enabler for operational monitoring. The fortune of SAR sensors that can capture images day and night and not affected by weather conditions, and it has wide swath that covers large geographical areas for possible oil spills. Monitoring the North entrance of the Suez Canal at different dates from 2014 till 2019 using free Sentinel-1 SAR data resulted in the detection of several events of oil pollution. The largest event covered nearly 50 km2of sea water. 

This study also illustrates different oil discrimination methods from SAR images to provide a high level of confidence in the detection results. The freely available Sentinel-1 data can be continuously used for monitoring and alarming pollution cases in the Canal area which is important for environmental agencies and governmental authorities. It is anticipated to create an operational model to detect and map oil pollution that supports decision makers and beneficiaries for coastal and marine socio-economic sustainability.

Key-Words: Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data, Oil spills, Image processing techniques, Suez Canal, SNAP

More information
  • Prof. Islam Abou El-Magd, imagd[at]
  • Dr. Omar ELBADAWY


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