Feb 26, 2013

Satellite-based Monitoring of the Black and Azov Seas. 2012 results

Estimated Article Reading Time: 4 min.

Results of the satellite-based monitoring of oil spills and ice situation in the Black and Azov seas with the period of January-December 2012 are summed up. Over the monitoring period 92 radar images were taken. Oil spill, mostly of ship origin, were detected on 61 images (66% of the total number of imagery sessions). This is one of the highest indicators of pollution level along other Russian seas, which can be attributed to intensive ship navigation and increase in cargo turnover within Azov-Black sea water basin.

The area of some spills varied from 0.1 up to 60 sq.km. Biggest oil discharges from vessels were registered in the Black Sea on the border between Russia and Ukraine. Large ship spills were also detected within Russian (15.9 sq.km, August 16, 2012), Ukrainian (60 sq.km, July 12, 2012) and Turkish sectors (28.3 sq.km, July 30, 2012). The acreage of the biggest oil spill in the Azov Sea constituted 17.7 sq.km (as of July 2012).

Average imaging frequency decreased due to malfunctioning of the European ENVISAT satellite in April 2012, which delivered most affordable radar images. However, monitoring of the eastern part of the Black and Azov seas was continued, using radar data from RADARSAT-1 and RADARSAT-2 satellites, as well as optical data from UK-DMC 2, SPOT 4 and SPOT 5 satellites, which were received directly in Russia to ScanEx RDC ground stations and its partners. Similar approach was applied in the European Space Agency (ESA) as well, which to ensure a non-stop operation of the CleanSeaNet service (http://cleanseanet.emsa.europa.eu) bought the resources of the Canadian RADARSAT-1 and RADARSAT-2 satellites.

Monitoring method was based on three key ScanEx’s technologies: ScanNet, GeoMixer and ScanDrifter. GeoMixer web-GIS technology, based on the geoinformation approach, enables to efficiency identify the detected oil spill and to analyze their nature on-line, using a unified cartographic basis, navigation maps, near-water wind and streams fields, AIS data and other data required for archived data and international centers’ data analysis.

ScanNet technology, applying near-real time imagery from seven RS satellites with sensors of visible and micro-wave bands of medium and high resolution (RADARSAT-1, RADARSAT-2, UK-DMC2, SPOT 4/5, EROS A/B, etc), is used to monitor the dynamics of large spills, their probable sources (ships) and ice formations; this technology enables, if needed, to improve the imaging resolution and frequency for monitoring small-size site and phenomena.

ScanDrifter technology enables to promptly model drifting of oil spills, other floating objects and ice fields. Specialists from the P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology and some other organizations carry out expertise of the detection and identification results. This service customers are: FSU “Novorossiysk Sea Port Administration”, National Center for Crisis Management of the EMERCOM of Russia, AARI of RosHydroMet, regional and federal institutions and companies.

Based on satellite monitoring data FSU “Novorossiysk Sea Port Administration” specialists, actively using space technology together with AIS data, identified in 2012 a number of ships, responsible for illegal discharges within Russian territory and on approach ways to such.

In 2012 regional cooperation on control of illegal pollutions in the eastern part of the Black Sea kept on developing based on satellite information service. When slick areas within the zones of responsibility of Ukraine, Georgia and Turkey were detected, which could be classified as illegal discharges from vessels, Novorossiysk Sea Port Administration sent notifications, graphical and satellite information about pollution to sea administrations of neighboring countries. Each of them conducted an independent investigation, using national AIS systems and detected ship involved. Further on the entire information package was sent to the administration of the port, where this suspected ship was located or planned to be moored. The required information in graphical mode was displayed on the web-portal of Novorossiysk Sea Port Administration».

So based on the satellite information service ScanEx RDC has de-facto created an international system of monitoring the eastern part of the Black Sea using radar, GIS and AIS technologies. The system coordinators are Marine Rescue Coordination Center of Novorossiysk and Novorossiysk Sea Port Administration. Service provider is ScanEx RDC, ensuring reception, processing, analysis and web-access to the portal. Marine authorities of other sea ports, as well as national (regional) AIS-servers in Russia, Georgia, Ukraine and Turkey, also participate in the work of the system.

Black Sea Committee, created in compliance with the Bucharest convention, was supposed to become the coordinator of the international cooperation program “Moninfo” on control of pollution of the whole Black Sea water area. The “Moninfo” project could not be launched for different reasons and coordination of operations on illegal discharges monitoring in the eastern part of the Black Sea was picked up by the FSU “Novorossiysk Sea Port Administration”.

Vast oil slicks as a result of river and non-point discharge during the disastrous July flooding in Krasnodar Territory were detected in Tsemessk Bay. Mud springs in Georgian sector of the Black Sea also kept to actively appear. Nonetheless, the main source of slicks in the open waters of the sea still was the ship navigation. Most frequently discharges from ships were registered in central part of the Black Sea within the area of meeting Ukrainian, Russian and Turkish sectors, the geographical coordinates are: 34,5-37,5° N and 43-44,5° E beyond the coastal AIS systems reach. Joint analysis of the space imagery and AIS data, received during monitoring, enables to assume that the indicated area was used for cleaning tanks and discharge of different liquid wastes. Captains of universal tankers practice this more often prior to changing the type of loads.

During monitoring, in addition to oil slicks and ice situation data, satellite images and information about extreme bora in Novorossiysk and surroundings in January and February, about consequences of Krasnodar territory floods and summer phytoplankton blooming in the Black Sea were received.

Satellite-based monitoring of the Black and Azov seas in 2013 is ongoing.

“More information at http://press.scanex.ru/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=3776:blacksea&lang=en