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Sentinel-1 benefits oil seep assessment

20 July 2017

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The European Union's Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission is providing far more images than previous generations of synthetic aperture radar satellites, bringing many significant advantages. One of them is determining the difference between naturally-occurring and polluting oil on the ocean surface.

An oil seep is a natural leak of crude oil and gas that migrates up through the seafloor and ocean depths. They are the largest source of oil entering oceans.

Seeps occur when crude oil leaks from fractures in the seafloor or rises up through sediments – similar to the way that a freshwater spring carries water to the surface. Natural seeps can lead to methane gas entering the atmosphere. When combined with the methane added to the atmosphere by anthropogenic processes, naturally seeping methane is often considered to be a negative climatic phenomenon.

Source: Sentinel Online

Image credit: Harry Dembicki, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, 2014 - Shipboard observations of sea-surface slicks

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