Chapter 3 Operational remote sensing for the detection and monitoring of oil pollution in the arabian gulf: Case studies from the United Arab emirates

Salem Essa, Hussein Harahsheh, Manabu Shiobara, Takashi Nishidai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Oil spill pollution is a serious threat to marine environments along the UAE coast line. Considerable oil spills have been caused by accidental and deliberate oil sludge dumping from passing ships during the past. Damage to fishery, seawater desalination, and damage to plants and natural habitats are of real concern. The purpose of this study is to investigate and demonstrate the feasibility of using different types of satellite imagery for detecting oil spills in the Arabian Gulf, offshore the UAE. A number of satellite data were processed and analyzed by using images from early US intelligence satellites of the mid-seventies to the most recent earth observation satellites, European ENVISAT, 2003. The analysis focused not only on oil spill but also on various appearances of oceanographic phenomena. A practical method for discriminating oil spills is an invaluable tool for marine oil spill surveillance. It is confirmed that the offshore of the United Arab Emirates faces frequent occurrences of oil spills in the Arabian Gulf and in the Gulf of Oman. Discharged oil and widely spread oil slicks in offshore Fujairah were confirmed by a sea truth campaign carried out in early 2003. An Oil Spill Atlas is being edited and is due to be published by the UAE University this year. The work done is the first step towards oil spill monitoring of the offshore UAE and its adjacent waters. Near-real time monitoring using commercial satellites is thought to be feasible. Future earth observation satellites including the forthcoming Japanese ALOS and internationally operating earth observation satellites in conjunction with marine numerical modeling techniques are expected to be very efficient tools for marine pollution surveillance in the coming future. Finally, an operational monitoring system integrating near-real time satellite observation with GIS mainframe is an ultimate goal that would constitute the nucleus for an Early Warning System to protect the marine environment of the Gulf States against oil pollution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-48
Number of pages18
JournalDevelopments in Earth and Environmental Sciences
Issue numberC
Publication statusPublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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