The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XL-7/W3
Int. Arch. Photogramm. Remote Sens. Spatial Inf. Sci., XL-7/W3, 927–932, 2015
Int. Arch. Photogramm. Remote Sens. Spatial Inf. Sci., XL-7/W3, 927–932, 2015

  30 Apr 2015

30 Apr 2015


J. Busler, H. Wehn, and L. Woodhouse J. Busler et al.
  • MDA Systems Ltd., 13800 Commerce Parkway, Richmond, British Columbia, Canada

Keywords: Marine Traffic Monitoring, Automated Information Systems, Oil Spill Tracking

Abstract. Illegal discharge of bilge waters is a significant source of oil and other environmental pollutants in Canadian and international waters. Imaging satellites are commonly used to monitor large areas to detect oily discharges from vessels, off-shore platforms and other sources. While remotely sensed imagery provides a snap-shot picture useful for detecting a spill or the presence of vessels in the vicinity, it is difficult to directly associate a vessel to an observed spill unless the vessel is observed while the discharge is occurring. The situation then becomes more challenging with increased vessel traffic as multiple vessels may be associated with a spill event. By combining multiple sources of vessel location data, such as Automated Information Systems (AIS), Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) and SAR-based ship detection, with spill detections and drift models we have created a system that associates detected spill events with vessels in the area using a probabilistic model that intersects vessel tracks and spill drift trajectories in both time and space. Working with the Canadian Space Agency and the Canadian Ice Service’s Integrated Satellite Tracking of Pollution (ISTOP) program, we use spills observed in Canadian waters to demonstrate the investigative value of augmenting spill detections with temporally sequenced vessel and spill tracking information.