A modular system for the operational monitoring of marine pollution

Transport by sea of oil resources is an activity seriously endangering the marine environment due to pollution caused by the illegal and continuous discharge of hydrocarbons, as well as by accidents. Therefore, a continuous and operational oil spill monitoring, together with a forecasting system for slick tracking, is essential.


The Pilot Project PRIMI, promoted by the Italian Space Agency, aims at developing and implementing a modular system for the operational monitoring of marine pollution caused by hydrocarbon spills. PRIMI is developing a system utilizing multi-platform SAR and optical data (mainly ERS, ENVISAT, COSMO/SkyMed, MODIS and MERIS) for slick detection. The resulting frequent revisit time for ensure high observational coverage of any Mediterranean area, which is combined with the PRIMI forecast utility for the detected spills. The system also provides data on wind, waves and currents, as well as ship data inferred from the satellite imagery. In practice, PRIMI system, in operation,  assesses the location and characteristics of oil slicks, it forecasts their position and feature change and it stores and disseminate data relevant to environmental remediation.