09 Dec 2008:
NASA Satellite Technology Can Monitor Natural Oil Seepage
Scientists are using NASA satellites to track natural oil slicks seeping to the surface of the world’s oceans
, providing better leads on potential sources of greenhouse gas emissions as the slicks break up and release carbon dioxide. Such natural seepage accounts for almost half of the oil that enters the earth's oceans, according to a report in New Scientist
. While typical satellite radar images enable scientists to monitor seepage spots every 8 to 16 days, new techniques of analyzing NASA's MODIS images can
detect a broader spectrum of wavelengths, including the visual range, allowing a scan of the surface of the earth daily. That is particularly significant since the sheen of an oil slick can disintegrate within two days. One research team used MODIS to monitor the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, and the image of a naturally occurring slick can be seen, at left. Scientists say monitoring areas of persistent seabed oil seepage provides an opportunity to study the unique seafloor ecosystems that have evolved near seepage vents, potentially leading to the development of new ways to clean up man-made oil spills.
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Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.
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An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
Ugandan scientists monitor the impact of climate change on one of Africa’s most diverse forests and its extraordinary wildlife. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
video goes onto the front lines with Colorado firefighters confronting deadly blazes fueled by a hotter, drier climate. Watch the video.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.