LARGE OIL SPILL CLASSIFICATION USING SAR IMAGES BASED ON SPATIAL HISTOGRAM
Keywords: Non-linear filter, Unsupervised Automatic Classification, Natural Hazards
Abstract. Among the different types of marine pollution, oil spill is a major threat to the sea ecosystems. Remote sensing is used in oil spill response. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) is an active microwave sensor that operates under all weather conditions and provides information about the surface roughness and covers large areas at a high spatial resolution. SAR is widely used to identify and track pollutants in the sea, which may be due to a secondary effect of a large natural disaster or by a man-made one . The detection of oil spill in SAR imagery relies on the decrease of the backscattering from the sea surface, due to the increased viscosity, resulting in a dark formation that contrasts with the brightness of the surrounding area.
Most of the use of SAR images for oil spill detection is done by visual interpretation. Trained interpreters scan the image, and mark areas of low backscatter and where shape is a-symmetrical. It is very difficult to apply this method for a wide area. In contrast to visual interpretation, automatic detection algorithms were suggested and are mainly based on scanning dark formations, extracting features, and applying big data analysis.
We propose a new algorithm that applies a nonlinear spatial filter that detects dark formations and is not susceptible to noises, such as internal or speckle. The advantages of this algorithm are both in run time and the results retrieved. The algorithm was tested in genesimulations as well as on COSMO-SkyMed images, detecting the Deep Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (occurred on 20/4/2010). The simulation results show that even in a noisy environment, oil spill is detected. Applying the algorithm to the Deep Horizon oil spill, the algorithm classified the oil spill better than focusing on dark formation algorithm. Furthermore, the results were validated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data.