Oil Spills

Overview

An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially marine areas, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term is usually applied to marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters, but spills may also occur on land. Oil spills may be due to releases of crude oil from tankers, offshore platforms, drilling rigs and wells, as well as spills of refined petroleum products (such as gasoline, diesel) and their by-products, heavier fuels used by large ships such as bunker fuel, or the spill of any oily refuse or waste oil.

Latest Updates

October 19, 2020
Comparison of KOMPSAT-2 and KOMPSAT-3A water extent maps with Landsat-8 water extent maps, using the normalized water difference index (NDWI). Credit: KOMPSAT-2 © KARI (2007), KOMPSAT-3A © KARI (2019), Landsat-8 image courtesy of the U.S. Geological Surve
Youn-Soo Kim, principal researcher at the Satellite Application Division of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), recently completed a year-long sabbatical visit at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in which he collaborated closely with the NASA Earth Applied Sciences Disasters Program. Kim is a member of the Satellite Application Division of the National Satellite Operation & Application Center at KARI. There, he helps manage satellite data generated by the KOMPSAT and Geo-KOMPSAT...
February 25, 2020
Participants in the Tradewinds 2020 Mid Planning Conference, including NASA Disasters Program HQ Emergency Management Coordinator Brady Helms (second from right). Credit: NASA
Members of the NASA Earth Applied Sciences Disasters Program recently participated in the Tradewinds 2020 Mid Planning Conference, a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored regionally oriented disasters management exercise that was conducted February 10th -14th 2020 in Georgetown, Guyana.  Participants in the Tradewinds 2020 Mid Planning Conference, including NASA Disasters Program HQ Emergency Management Coordinator Brady Helms (second from right). Credit: NASA The Mid Planning...
June 18, 2015
Norway's annual Oil on Water exercises allow personnel and equipment to hone their response to oil spills. In this photo from the 2010 exercise, a rescue boat checks the placement of booms by a fishing boat that participated in the cleanup drill. A boom i
NASA participated for the first time in Norway's annual oil spill cleanup exercise in the North Sea on June 8 through 11. Scientists flew a specialized NASA airborne instrument called the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) on NASA's C-20A piloted research aircraft to monitor a controlled release of oil into the sea, testing the radar's ability to distinguish between more and less damaging types of oil slicks. Norway's Oil on Water exercise has been held annually since the 1980s, weather and wildlife permitting. In these drills, oil is released onto the ocean and...
June 2, 2010
Multiple cameras on JPL's MISR instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft were used to create two unique views of oil moving into Louisiana's coastal wetlands.
Multiple cameras on JPL's MISR instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft were used to create two unique views of oil moving into Louisiana's coastal wetlands.  These images, acquired on May 24, 2010 by the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument aboard NASA's Terra spacecraft, show the encroachment of oil from the former Deepwater Horizon rig into Louisiana's wildlife habitats. The source of the spill is located off the southeastern (bottom...