Oil slick morphology derived from AVIRIS measurements of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: Implications for spatial resolution requirements of remote sensors

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Abstract

Using fine spatial resolution (~ 7.6 m) hyperspectral AVIRIS data collected over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, we statistically estimated slick lengths, widths and length/width ratios to characterize oil slick morphology for different thickness classes. For all AVIRIS-detected oil slicks (N = 52,100 continuous features) binned into four thickness classes (≤ 50 μm but thicker than sheen, 50-200 μm, 200-1000 μm, and > 1000 μm), the median lengths, widths, and length/width ratios of these classes ranged between 22 and 38 m, 7-11 m, and 2.5-3.3, respectively. The AVIRIS data were further aggregated to 30-m (Landsat resolution) and 300-m (MERIS resolution) spatial bins to determine the fractional oil coverage in each bin. Overall, if 50% fractional pixel coverage were to be required to detect oil with thickness greater than sheen for most oil containing pixels, a 30-m resolution sensor would be needed.

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Sun, S., Hu, C., Feng, L., Swayze, G. A., Holmes, J., Graettinger, G., … Leifer, I. (2016). Oil slick morphology derived from AVIRIS measurements of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: Implications for spatial resolution requirements of remote sensors. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 103(1–2), 276–285. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.12.003

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