Oil Spill Detection and Tracking Using Lipschitz Regularity and Multiscale Techniques in Synthetic Aperture Radar Imagery

Monday, 15 December 2014
Olaniyi A Ajadi and Franz J Meyer, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, United States
Automatic oil spill detection and tracking from Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images is a difficult task, due in large part to the inhomogeneous properties of the sea surface, the high level of speckle inherent in SAR data, the complexity and the highly non-Gaussian nature of amplitude information, and the low temporal sampling that is often achieved with SAR systems.

This research presents a promising new oil spill detection and tracking method that is based on time series of SAR images. Through the combination of a number of advanced image processing techniques, the develop approach is able to mitigate some of these previously mentioned limitations of SAR-based oil-spill detection and enables fully automatic spill detection and tracking across a wide range of spatial scales. The method combines an initial automatic texture analysis with a consecutive change detection approach based on multi-scale image decomposition.

The first step of the approach, a texture transformation of the original SAR images, is performed in order to normalize the ocean background and enhance the contrast between oil-covered and oil-free ocean surfaces. The Lipschitz regularity (LR), a local texture parameter, is used here due to its proven ability to normalize the reflectivity properties of ocean water and maximize the visibly of oil in water. To calculate LR, the images are decomposed using two-dimensional continuous wavelet transform (2D-CWT), and transformed into Holder space to measure LR. After texture transformation, the now normalized images are inserted into our multi-temporal change detection algorithm. The multi-temporal change detection approach is a two-step procedure including (1) data enhancement and filtering and (2) multi-scale automatic change detection.

The performance of the developed approach is demonstrated by an application to oil spill areas in the Gulf of Mexico. In this example, areas affected by oil spills were identified from a series of ALOS PALSAR images acquired in 2010. The comparison showed exceptional performance of our method. This method can be applied to emergency management and decision support systems with a need for real-time data, and it shows great potential for rapid data analysis in other areas, including volcano detection, flood boundaries, forest health, and wildfires.