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2018 AAPG International Conference and Exhibition

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Developments in the Application of Remote Sensing for Environmental Monitoring


With the increasing emphasis on the environmental impact of exploration and production activities, the regular assessment of often remote and extensive areas is a common requirement for regulatory or corporate and social responsibility reasons. Remote sensing techniques, using imagery acquired from earth orbiting satellites combined with analytical approaches, offer a method for supporting environmental baseline assessment and monitoring. In this paper we will review the application of satellite data for environmental applications onshore and offshore using both optical and radar imagery, with an emphasis on recent developments and examples. Through technological advances, satellite sensors and platforms are offering more frequent revisits and higher resolutions. The resulting data volumes present both opportunities and challenges, allowing more detailed site assessment but with the need to efficiently extract relevant spatial information. Considering the typical workflow applied to monitoring the habitat change and restoration applied to expansion of an onshore facility, the first phase consists of a baseline study to assess environmental conditions. Once development of a site is initiated advanced analysis techniques, including automated change detection, are applied to identify and classify landcover change at regular intervals. Throughout the project lifecycle these changes will include vegetation clearance and infrastructure development followed by vegetation regrowth and reinstatement after project completion. In order to assist in vegetation classification and heath assessment over time, biophysical parameters are calculated, providing information on vegetation physical properties. Emphasis is placed on the quantification of change over time. Customised spatial web portal and reporting dashboard are developed to seamlessly deliver the results to a range of users. Offshore regular radar acquisition can provide a record of potential offshore spills, due to the influence surface oil can have on sea surface wave amplitudes. This radar approach is particularly valuable when combined with an offshore oil seep database, providing an understanding of natural oil seep presence in an offshore assessment area.