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OI News

  html link 22 July 2016:
NOAA Partners with OI to Advance Oill Spill
Remote Sensing

  html link Ocean News & Technology January 2014 (108kb):
MSRC inks remote sensing contract with Ocean Imaging

  html link 27 Mar 2013
OI’s Jan Svejkovsky Wins Multiple Awards for Scientific Paper

  html link
12 Nov 2012
OI teams with BP to Develop Next Generation Serial Oil Spill Mapping System

  html link PE&RS October 2012 Cover Article (4MB): "Operational Utilization of Aerial Multispectral Remote Sensing during Oil Spill Response: Lessons Learned During the Deepwater Horizon (MC-252) Spill" by Jan Svejkovsky, William Lehr, Judd Muskat, George Graettinger, and Joseph Mullin

  html link PE&RS October 2012 Highlight Article (2MB): "Expanding the Utility of Remote Sensing Data for Oil Spill Response" by Jan Svejkovsky and Mark Hess

  html link 07 Jan 2011
OI's Oil-Spill Analysis Capabilities Featured in "San Diego Union Tribune"

  html link 08 Oct 2010
OI Maps Oregon's Kelp Resources
  html link 05 Aug 2010
OI's Oil-Spill Response Demonstration Featured in Alaska's "Arctic Sounder"

  html link 19 May 2010
OI Participates in Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response

  html link 08 Mar 2010
OI Receives U.S. Dept. of Interior's "Cooperative Conservation Award"

  html link 01 Mar 2010
OI Awarded Sea Grant Funds to Map "Marine Protected Areas"

  html link 17 Dec 2009
OI Receives New Funding for Oil Spill Mapping System Development

  02 Oct 2009
OI Maps M/V Dubai Star Oil Spill in San Francisco Bay

  html link 01 Jul 2008
OI to Map California's Kelp Beds

  26 Jun 2008
OI provides SST images for NBC News

  09 Nov 2007
OI to Develop Real-time Oil Spill Response GIS System

  18 Oct 2007
OI Acquires Thermal Imaging System

  02 Mar 2007
OI Receives Phase-2 Funding for Oil Spill Research

  16 Feb 2007
OI to Develop Oil Spill Rapid Response GIS System for California Dept. of Fish & Game

  31 Oct 2006
OI's SeaView© Fish-finding Service Helps Win Largest Prize Payout in Sportfishing History!

  01 Sep 2006
OI to Investigate Mine-polluted Creeks in the Sierras

  09 Apr 2005
OI Funded by Minerals Management Service to Expand Oil Spill Sensing Research

  05 Apr 2004
OI to Investigate Oil Spill Recognizance with Aerial Imaging

  06 Nov 2003
OI Receives New NASA Funding

  08 Jul 2003
OI Receives 2-year Extension on Water Quality Monitoring Contract

  05 May 2003
OI Begins Study of Bering Sea Environmental Variability


Magazine Features

  2011 April Subsea Oil and Gas, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2011: "Aerial mapping of oil spill distributions, thickness patterns and weathering state."
  2009 August SeaTechnology: "Adding a Multispectral Aerial System to the Oil Spill Response Arsenal"


04 November 2016 - Ocean Imaging's lastest peer-reviewed scientific paper on the characterization of oil spills during the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill

Ohmsett Facility Oil Spill

Characterization of surface oil thickness distribution patterns observed during the Deepwater Horizon (MC-252) oil spill with aerial and satellite remote sensing.

Knowledge of the spatial distribution of oil thickness patterns within an on-water spill is of obvious importance for immediate spill response activities as well as for subsequent evaluation of the spill impacts. For long-lasting continuous spills like the 2010 3-month Deepwater Horizon (DWH) event in the Gulf of Mexico, it is also important to identify changes in the dominant oil features through time. This study utilized very high resolution (≤5 m) aerial and satellite imagery acquired during the DWH spill to evaluate the shape, size and thickness of surface oil features that dominated the DWH slick. Results indicate that outside of the immediate spill source region, oil distributions did not encompass a broad, varied range of thicknesses. Instead, the oil separated into four primary, distinct characterizations: 1) invisible surface films detectable only with Synthetic Aperture Radar imaging because of the decreased surface backscatter, 2) thicker sheen & rainbow areas (b0.005 mm), 3) large regional areas of relatively thin, “metallic appearance” films (0.005–0.08 mm), and 4) strands of thick, emulsified oil (N1 mm) that were consistently hundreds of meters long but most commonly only 10–50 m wide. Where present within the slick footprint, each of the three distinct visible oil thickness classes maintained its shape characteristics both spatially (at different distances from the source and in different portions of the slick), and temporally (from mid-May through July 2010). The region over the source site tended to contain a more continuous range of oil thicknesses, however, our results indicate that the continuous injection of subsurface dispersants starting in late May significantly altered (lowered) that range. In addition to characterizing the oil thickness distribution patterns through the timeline of one of the world's largest oil spills, this paper also details the extension of using high resolution aerial imagery to calibrate medium resolution satellite data sources such as USA's Thematic Mapper (30 m) to provide larger-scale spatial views of major spills, and discusses implications for utilizing such data for oil spill characterizations and spill response

22 July 2016 - NOAA Partners with OI to Advance Oil Spill Remote Sensing

Ohmsett Facility FlyoverOhmsett Facility Oil Spill

In the effort to continue building upon remote sensing utilization experiences gained during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, NOAA is leading a multi-entity project to enhance future capabilities to map weathered oil and oil emulsions in future spills. The project is being funded by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and includes several novel advancements:

  1. For the first time, oil emulsions are being made on a relatively large scale at BSEE’s Ohmsett Tank facility allowing natural weathering under open sky and agitation using a wave maker;
  2. Image data acquisitions are coordinated to allow near-simultaneous collection of multisensory imagery from a fixed platform above the tank, an unmanned airborne vehicle (UAV), and aerial system on a helicopter at several different altitudes, and very high resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar and multispectral color imagery from satellites;
  3. Following an initial phase done at Ohmsett under controlled conditions, the multi-platform data acquisition efforts will also be done over naturally formed oil emulsions in the Gulf of Mexico.

HelicopterTRACSTRACS on Helicpoter

One of the project’s main objectives is to provide directly intercomparable data from UAV, aerial and satellite images to better understand what quantifiable information can be confidently gained from each image data source. As part of the project, OI is also evaluating the operational potential of sensors imaging parts of the electromagnetic spectrum presently not included on our existing TRACS aerial system, particularly for characterizing the oil/water composition of floating emulsions.


27 March 2013 - OI’s Jan Svejkovsky Wins Multiple Awards for Scientific Paper

Ocean Imaging’s President – Dr. Jan Svejkovsky – is the primary author on a peer-reviewed paper published in the October, 2012 issue of the journal Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing (PE&RS):  “Operational Utilization of Aerial Multispectral Remote Sensing during Oil Spill Response: Lessons Learned During the Deepwater Horizon (MC-252) Spill,” PE&RS, 78(10): 1089-1102. The paper details OI’s aerial oil spill mapping system and its multiple uses during the massive 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Early in 2013, the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) chose Svejkovsky et al.’s paper to receive two annual awards for its content and quality: the Boeing Award for Best Paper of the Year, and the John I. Davidson President’s Award (3rd place) for Best Practical Paper. Both awards include a cash prize and were presented on 26th March, 2013 at ASPRS’ Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. While Svejkovsky was not able to attend the ceremony, the awards were received on his behalf by Joseph Mullin – one of his co-authors and an ardent supporter of the OI oil mapping system’s development during his pre-retirement tenure at the US Minerals Management Service.


12 Nov 2012 - OI Teams with BP to Develop Next Generation Aerial Oil Spill Mapping System
Ocean Imaging has teamed up with BP to develop an advanced, yet simple-to-use aerial imaging system specifically configured to provide digital maps of oil spill extents and oil thickness distributions. Drawing on OI’s extensive past research and operational support experience, especially during the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010, OI’s researchers will assemble and test a highly portable multispectral hardware/software system that will enable image capture, oil characteristics classification, and electronic dissemination of the resulting map in near-real-time directly from the aircraft. Primary emphasis is on expanding the spatial coverage capabilities of the system, so that smaller spills can be quickly mapped in only one or two overflight passes and very large spills can be completely or near-completely covered in a single flight mission. Initial testing is planned for spring/summer 2013. The system will be small enough to enable its future use both in manned aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

08 Oct 2010 - OI Maps Oregon's Kelp Resources
Extending on its expertise in kelp resource assessments in California and Alaska, Ocean Imaging was contracted by the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to conduct a state-wide survey of kelp beds along the state's coast. Taking advantage of a combination of favorable low-tide, sun angle and clear weather conditions, the OI team acquired the needed imagery this week with its DMSC multispectral sensor. The Oregon Dept. of Forestry provided OI with an aircraft - a Partenavia Observer. In addition to spatially mapping kelp beds along the Oregon coast, OI will utilize multispectral algorithms developed in previous NASA-funded work in Alaska to quantify the amount of kelp present into actual biomass values. The ODFW utilized resident fishermen to collect actual field samples of kelp biomass in portions of some of the imaged kelp beds to be used for both calibrating the algorithms, and evaluate measurement error in the remote sensing-derived biomass assessments.

19 May 2010 - OI participates in Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response
On 5/1/2010 OI's oil spill mapping team was summoned to the Gulf by NOAA and British Petroleum to provide our capabilities during the vast response to the Mississippi Canyon 252 oil spill. NOAA has provided OI with one of it's Twin Otter aircraft on which OI mounted its multispectral color and thermal IR instruments. Guided by daily-changing imaging target priorities from the various Command Center groups, the OI team is flying daily (and sometimes twice-daily) missions, mapping the oil's extents, weathering state and thickness. So far, OI's data have been used to: 1) help provide input and validation data for NOAA's oil spill trajectory forecast models; 2) document the effects of surface and subsurface dispersant applications; 3) provide recognizance and documentation of the existence and thickness of oil at the far boundaries of the spill; 4) map oil reaching the shoreline.

The image data are processed while still airborne and immediately after touchdown. Fully processed oil state/thickness maps are disseminated to multiple Command Centers as they become available within 2-3 hours after the flight mission. A simplified map product specifically designed to help guide oil recovery vessels will also start being disseminated in near-real time this week. "Through our MMS research project, we were planning do conduct some testing and demonstrations in the Gulf this coming fall," said Ocean Imaging's president, Dr. Jan Svekovsky, "but fate quickly turned the planned demo into the real thing." OI's high resolution oil thickness mapping provides much needed information not obtainable from satellite images which generally cannot be used to discern and unrecoverable thin oil sheens versus thicker oil accumulations that can be skimmed or treated with dispersants.

08 Mar 2010- OI Receives US Dept. of Interior's "Cooperative Conservation Award"
OI's oil spill mapping work funded by the Minerals Management Service (MMS) and California Dept. of Fish and Game's Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) has been selected for the 2010 Cooperative Conservation Award by the US Dept. of Interior. The collaboration of federal (MMS), state (OSPR) and corporate (OI) teams has led to the development of new oil spill response technologies that have already improved response activities in several recent oil spills in California. The award ceremony will be conducted in Washington, DC in May, 2010

01 Mar 2010 - OI Aawarded SeaGrant Funds to Map Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
California Sea Grant has awarded OI a 3-year grant to generate a high resolution baseline data base of natural resources in estuarine, intertidal and shallow subtidal areas related to the newly created Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in North-Central California. The project also includes annual mapping of kelp beds over the entire region and persistence analyses aimed to establish the pre-MPA variability in kelp and estuarine resources using time series of historical and recently collected data. "We are very excited to become part of the MPA-related studies", said OI's president, Dr. Jan Svejkovsky. "We will be collaborating with numerous academic research teams who will get access to our aerial remote sensing technologies through this program."

17 Dec 2009 - OI receives New Funding for Oil Spill Mapping System Development
The US Minerals Management Service is providing new funding for further development and testing of OI's oil spill mapping system. The 16 month project aims to expand the use of the system into arctic environments and waters with very high sediment loads. The work will involve field tests along Alaska's North Slope and in the Gulf of Mexico. Cold water development work is also planned for winter months at MMS' Ohmsett facility in New Jersey where the relationships between oil film thickness in near-freezing waters and its signature in thermal IR imagery will be investigated.

02 Oct 2009 - OI maps M/V Dubai Star Oil Spill in San Francisco

On the morning of 10/30/2009 the M/V Dubai Star tanker was refueling approximately 2.5 miles south of the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco Bay. Around 7am the heavy fuel oil began escaping from the refueling system and into the Bay. A multi-agency response was quickly mounted and the Unified Command authorized OI to mobilize from San Diego and image the resulting spill. OI mobilized within 2 hours of the notice and imaged the spill on both 10/30 and 10/31 with its multispectral visible/thermal IR system. The processed GIS image data were made available to Unified Command via a web server within 30-40 minutes of image acquisition. The interactive server was developed by OI specifically for California's Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) in a previous project. The image-based products were used to guide recovery operations and to ascertain that all recoverable oil has been located. This is the second time that OI's newly developed oil spill imaging system was used operationally - the first time was in December, 2008 during a spill from an offshore oil rig in the Santa Barbara Channel, California.

01 Jul 2008 - OI to Map California's Kelp Beds

Ocean Imaging received a contract from the California's Dept. of Fish and Game to image and map the entire California coastline for kelp abundance. The annual survey will be conducted in the fall and early winter when kelp canopy tends to be at its maximum. Kelp beds and associated reefs are a very important habitat along California's coastline and the CDFG regularly monitors and manages this resource.

26 Jun 2008 - OI provides SST Images for NBC News

Ocean Imaging began providing NBC-San Diego (Channel 7) with weekly sea surface temperature images for their morning and evening news broadcasts. To assure an SST product even during periods of cloudy weather, OI utilizes specially developed multi-image compositing routines that combine cloudfree data from several satellite overpasses. In addition to ocean temperature, OI also provides NBC with ocean color and other images of interest to the public.

09 Nov 2007 - OI to Develop Real-time Oil Spill Response GIS System

Ocean Imaging received a grant from California's Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) to develop a GIS system to help disseminate information during response to oil spills. The system will be accessible to both field and office-based users through an ArcIMS web server. Even users in remote locations or aboard ships and aircraft will be able to access the information through wireless networks. The system will allow access to archived information such as shoreline sensitivity maps, as well as newly collected data such as satellite and aerial images. OI is also testing hardware and software that will enable the transmission of aerial image-derived oil spill maps into the system directly from the aircraft in-flight.

18 Oct 2007 - OI Acquires Thermal Imaging System

Ocean Imaging has purchased a state-of-the-art thermal imaging camera system from Germany's Jenoptik AG. Using custom-developed software, the camera is integrated with high-accuracy geolocation hardware and a near-real-time image dissemination system that allows instant transfer of captured imagery to ground stations for processing and analysis. Although the system was primarily purchased for advanced oil spill mapping research, OI intends to utilize it in a broad range of research and operational activities. The sensor has 0.08ºC thermal resolution and is fully calibrated. Spatial resolution is determined by aircraft flight altitude, allowing detection of even sub-meter size targets. It is highly portable and can be mounted and operated simultaneously with our DMSC sensor, yielding both thermal and multi-spectral UV-Vis-nearIR image data.

02 Mar 2007 - OI Receives Phase-2 Funding for Oil Spill Research
The U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) has awarded OI new funding to continue development of algorithms and aerial sensors that enable the mapping of oil thicknesses within oil slicks on the ocean surface. Partnered with the California Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), the initial project utilized natural oil seeps off California as well as controlled spill experiments at MMS' Ohmsett test tank in New Jersey to develop oil thickness sensing algorithms using multispectral aerial imagery within the UV-to-nearIR wavelength range. The Phase-2 work will extend the development of the algorithms and test off-the-shelf hardware components to allow the manufacture of portable, low-cost oil spill response systems. "Presently oil spills are assessed almost entirely by visual observation," explains OI's President, Dr. Jan Svejkovsky. "The accuracy of these assessments is greatly dependent on the level of training and experience of the observers. Our aim is to take the subjectivity out of the surveys and let computer programs do the work." An additional advantage of the oil spill imagers will be their ability to immediately disseminate digital GIS-compatible maps of a spill to ground crews and thus improve their response.

16 Feb 2007 - OI to Develop Oil Spill Rapid Response GIS System for California Dept. of Fish & Game
In collaboration with the GIS division of CDFG's Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), OI will develop new capabilities to allow the rapid transfer of raster and non-raster data between various offices and agencies during oil spill response or similar emergency situations. Drawing on OI's experience in disseminating satellite imagery and other data to ships at sea, OI's development team will provide OSPR new capabilities to utilize state-of-the-art remote sensing and GIS technologies by emergency response teams in the field. The project will also involve integration of the system outside CDFG, primarily with the US Coast Guard. For example, a possible oil spill feature noted on a real-time Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) image received by OSPR headquarters can be disseminated to aircraft teams who will mobilize with a multispectral oil spill mapping sensor, verify the existence of the spill and send a digital map of the exact extents of the spill to field crews and the Coast Guard, who will initiate proper response activity. Based on the oil spill map, the Coast Guard may chose to deploy their own team and drop an oil spill sampling buoy to aid in identification of the oil's origin. OI plans to have an operational demonstration of the completed system within 24 months.


31 Oct 2006 - OI's SeaView© Fish-finding Service Helps Win Largest Prize Payout in Sportfishing History!
Through the years OI's fish-finding services have helped many anglers win fishing tournaments. But this one is for the record books. On 10/31/2006 a team of fishermen captained by Mr. Steve Lassley - a long-time SeaView subscriber and enthusiast - won the annual Bisbee's Black & Blue Marlin Tournament in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for a prize totaling over $4.1 million! This set a new world record in sportfishing tournament history. Mr Lassley's team of top-notch sport anglers - "Bad Company 55" - won the competition despite it's being cut from 3 days to 2 because of a nearby meandering hurricane. In such conditions, having the very latest and most accurate oceanographic information, as SeaView provides, is vital. "I wouldn't leave the dock without SeaView, period!" says Mr. Lassley. He plans to utilize OI's services to expand his "dream team" winnings in other tournament locations, including Hawaii and the East Coast.

01 Sep 2006 - OI to Investigate Mine-polluted Creeks in the Sierras
California's Sierra Mountains have been subject to intense mining activity since the 1800s. Some of this activity has left major impacts on the Mountain's vegetation and wildlife. One such area is the Leviathan Mine - an abandoned sulfur mine in Alpine County, California. Inactive since 1962, contaminants from the mine severely polluted a neighboring creek system and greatly affected surrounding vegetation and aquatic wildlife. Since the late 1990s local groups as well as the state and federal government have financed various remediation efforts to bring back the area's environmental health. In collaboration with CDFG, the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California has contracted with OI to evaluate changes in creek-side (i.e. riparian) vegetation that occurred from the 1980s to the present. OI flew its DMSC aerial sensor over the mine-affected creeks, as well as a number of unaffected creeks for control purposes. Archived aerial imagery collected by the USGS in the 1980s will now be analyzed for the presence of riparian habitat and the two data sets will be utilized in a vegetation change analysis. OI also conducted its own field sampling work to train the classification algorithms and validate the results.

09 Apr 2005 - OI Funded by Minerals Management Service to Expand Oil Spill Sensing Research
The Minerals Management Service recently awarded Ocean Imaging a research grant for developing and testing capabilities to quickly map the thickness of oil films on the ocean surface using a portable 4-channel aerial imager. Accurate estimation of oil film thickness during an oil spill is extremely important for calculating the total volume of oil spilled, and also for deciding which clean-up method to utilize. Unfortunately, several former techniques to measure oil thickness from overflying aircraft have either failed or the instrumentation is so complex and bulky that it cannot be routinely deployed during an oil spill emergency. OI's work will aim to establish robust relationships between oil thickness and its reflectance in 4 specially chosen wavelengths. Tests will be conducted over natural oil seeps in Southern California as well as at MMS' Ohmsett testing facility in New Jersey. The project's results should allow MMS, Coast Guard and state agencies to gain operational oil spill thickness measurement capabilities with economical and easy-to-deploy instruments.

05 Apr 2004 - OI to Investigate Oil Spill Recognizance with Aerial Imaging
Ocean Imaging has received funding for development of methodologies to detect a variety of hydrocarbon compounds on water and oil-impacted soils on land with its highly portable DMSC aerial imager. The two year project, funded by the California Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response, will focus on fine-tuning easy-to-deploy, economical aerial imaging systems to detect oil spills or illegal dumps as well as map damage in coastal habitats caused by beached oil. "We've had several instances when we captured oil and fuel spills by chance during flights for other projects," said Jamie Kum, OI's aerial data acquisitions engineer. "This project will help us maximize the system's detection efficiency." The long-term goal is to develop methodology which would allow oil response agencies such as OSPR to find oil spills and help guide recovery operations in an effective but cost-efficient matter. The project includes a demonstration during which imagery will be acquired, processed aboard the aircraft and disseminated to ground crews in near-real-time via satellite telephone.

06 Nov 2003 –
OI Receives New NASA Funding
In late October ’03 Ocean Imaging has been awarded a $500,000 grant by NASA to generate a global map of kelp reef communities and study their vulnerability to changes. While considerable research attention is already placed on the effects of changing climate upon tropical coral reef habitats, there is practically no information on how global changes are affecting temperate reef communities. Many such habitats are dominated by kelp forests which are sensitive to changes in water temperature, turbidity and nutrient concentrations. Ocean Imaging will utilize a worldwide Thematic Mapper image data base processed by EarthSat Corporation to create a first-time global map of kelp reefs as they existed in the year 2000. This data base will then be used to compare with older as well as most recent regional data to quantify ecosystem changes in different world areas. This project fits well into NASA’s present research emphasis on studying how the Earth is changing and what the consequences are.

08 Jul 2003 – Ocean Imaging Receives 2-year Extension on Water Quality Monitoring Contract
Following a very successful first year of utilizing remote sensing to supplement traditional field-based water quality monitoring programs in the San Diego/Tijuana, Mexico region, Ocean Imaging has received a 2-year contract extension for continuing the work. The project is jointly funded by the California Water Quality Control Board and operators of two regional offshore sewage outfalls. It represents the first time that a remote sensing component is a formal part of offshore outfall discharge permit specifications. OI utilizes several different types of satellite data but relies heavily on regular overflights with its DMSC multispectral aerial sensor. “The DMSC overflights have three major advantages,” explains Dr. Jan Svejkovsky, OI’s President. “First, we have customized the sensor’s 4 channels for wavelengths that maximize outfall plume detection and allow spectral separation of different types of effluent sources. Second, cloudy weather is not as big a problem as with satellites, because we can often fly under them. Third, most of the time we can fly on a moment’s notice to track a spill or some other event.”

The project's major accomplishments in its first year were the establishment of plume trajectory patterns from the outfalls and several important terrestrial sources under various ocean conditions, the ability to document the true sources of beach contamination events uncovered by traditional field sampling, and the mapping of each effluent source’s spatial extents to better understand and forecast the associated contamination risks.

05 May 2003 – OI Begins Study of Bering Sea Environmental Variability
OI began work on a federally and state funded research project aiming to define whether environmental variations in the Bering Sea over the past 20 years have played a role in the devastating drop in salmon stocks along its Alaskan shores. Local commercial and subsistence fisheries have been virtually wiped out, and the Norton Sound and Kuskokwim Bay areas have been declared federal disaster regions since the late 90s. There are numerous theories on why the salmon disappeared, ranging from overfishing to deadly plankton blooms, to overabundance of killer whales. It is not even known if the main causes are based on land – in the streams where the salmon get born and spawn, or in the sea – where they spend much of their life. OI will use several types of satellite data to examine the sea environment and to document any changes coinciding with the salmon population declines on several different spatial and temporal scales.