Oil detection in RADARSAT-2 quad-polarization imagery: implications for ScanSAR performance


  • Cheng, A.
  • Arkett, M.
  • Zagon, T.
  • De Abreu, R.
  • Mueller, D.
  • Vachon, P.
  • Wolfe, J.




Environment Canada's Integrated Satellite Tracking of Pollution (ISTOP) program uses RADARSAT-2 data to vector pollution surveillance assets to areas where oil discharges/spills are suspected in support of enforcement and/or cleanup efforts. RADARSAT-2's new imaging capabilities and ground system promises significant improvement's in ISTOP's ability to detect and report on oil pollution. Of specific interest is the potential of dual polarization ScanSAR data acquired with VV polarization to improve the detection of oil pollution compared to data acquired with HH polarization, and with VH polarization to concurrently detect ship targets. A series of 101 RADARSAT-2 fine quad images were acquired over Coal Oil Point, near Santa Barbara, California where a seep field naturally releases hydrocarbons. The oil and gas releases in this region are visible on the sea surface and have been well documented allowing for the remote sensing of a constant source of oil at a fixed location. Although the make-up of the oil seep field could be different from that of oil spills, it provides a representative target that can be routinely imaged under a variety of wind conditions. Results derived from the fine quad imagery with a lower noise floor were adjusted to mimic the noise floor limitations of ScanSAR. In this study it was found that VV performed better than HH for oil detection, especially at higher incidence angles.

© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE).



Peer Review: 

Published in Peer Reviewed Journal

Faculty Name: 

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Department Name: 

Department of Geography and Environmental Studies

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