Remote Sensing Guide to Oil Spill Detection in Ice-Covered Waters

This guide was developed with the operational user in mind for assessing and selecting appropriate remote sensing technologies and deployment platforms for oil spill detection and surveillance in ice-covered waters. At this time, the prevailing state of knowledge about remote sensor performance is largely based upon field experience gained in temperate climate spills and experimental tests conducted utilizing intentional spills in various ice conditions. This existing body of knowledge is applied to provide the user with a tool to assess the potential performance of various types of sensors against representative oil in ice distributions commonly occurring in the Arctic. The sensors included are those commercially available at this time that have demonstrated performance in one or more of the oil in ice distributions.

The sensors are grouped according to possible deployment platforms (e.g., ice surface, aircraft, vessels, etc.) since the availability of each platform will be a major determinant for the successful use of each remote sensing system. In most Arctic regions, few, if any, airborne sensing systems would be readily accessible, and the use of any aircraft systems under government control may be very restricted or entirely unavailable. There will also be logistical challenges to deploy and support such systems. Therefore, this guide is also intended to assist the user with the planning of a surveillance program with the best suite of sensors and platforms for specific types and amounts of ice, while considering possible oil distributions within the ice.