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Gulf Oil Spill Surface Analysis

posted Nov 11, 2010, 1:16 PM by Cesar Harada

YouTube Video

The BP Deepwater Horizon caught fire and sank after an explosion on April 20, 2010. The subsequent oil loss into the Gulf of Mexico is threatening the health of the Gulf and coastal ecosystems in the region. Using high resolution satellites from NOAA’s partners in Earth observations, NESDIS scientists are able to track the location of the oil plume as it is circulated throughout the Gulf due to changing winds and currents. Satellites providing data for these analyses include the MODIS sensor on NASA’s Aqua and Terra, Canadian Space Agency’s RADARSAT-2 SAR, JAXA’s ALOS satellite, Satellite Imaging Corporation’s SPOT-5, and the SAR sensor on European Space Agency’s ENVISAT. This animation shows the extents of the oil spills as observed by the aforementioned satellites. The observed extents may in some cases not reflect the actual extents due to the difficultly in identifying oil slicks from space. In addition, the extents shown characterize only the surface oil, not the subsurface plumes that are now being documented.

credit: NOAA