Minimize North Sea, July 1996

North Sea - The Earth Watching Team discovered an oil slick during a data screening of this image and requested the expert-operators of TSS for an interpretation.

The image below has been acquired from the European Space Agency's ERS-2 satellite on July 18 1996, at 11 AM (Greenwich Time) by the Fucino ground station, but also by Tromso Satellite Station (TSS).

The overall low grey level in the scene suggests that there is little wind in the area, ranging from about 1m/s to 7m/s. These are ideal conditions for detecting any type of oil film.

There are two possible oil slicks of mean sizes 12 x 5km and 14 x 3km as shown in this image. Both slicks are diffused and seems the wind has had an impact. In this image the optimal conditions used to detect dumping can be observed by the bright lights. These slicks may be caused by water disposal, drilling fluids or oil. The black area on the north-east side of the image is due to low wind conditions.

The TSS Operators analyse all SAR data received at the station. If an oil slick is discovered, as in this case, a communication is sent to the Norwegian Pollution Control Autority (SFT) by phone and fax. The surveillance aircraft of SFT often operates in the vicinity of the satellite acquisitions and a direct link between the operators of TSS and the pilots has been established.

Event Timeline
North Sea
This ERS-2 satellite image was acquired on 18 July 1996 over the oil slick in the North Sea.
ERS-2 satellite image
View large image [JPG, 170 KB]
Technical Information
Satellite: ERS-1 & 2
Instrument: Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
Date of Acquisition: 18 July 1996
Image area coverage: 40 x 25km
Acquired by: Fucino (Italy)