Monday, June 5, marks World Environment Day, the biggest annual event for positive environmental action. We want to take this opportunity to remember the importance of nature and the value that geoinformation has for monitoring and helping to preserve our environment, as well as for disaster risk reduction and emergency response.

To celebrate this day, we are releasing a fresh image of the Mississippi Delta, at the Gulf of México, captured by Deimos-1.  Vegetation appears in varying shades of red, due to the false-colour band combination used for the image processing. This indicates how sensitive the multispectral instrument on Deimos-1 is to differences in chlorophyll content, providing key information on vegetation health. The central-lower part of the image shows Pass-a-Loutre Wildlife Management Area, a protected wetland characterized by river channels with attendant channel banks, natural bayous, and man-made canals which are interspersed with intermediate and fresh marshes. The left bottom part shows several oil drilling rigs while the left-upper part corresponds to New Orleans.

The Gulf of Mexico accounts for 17% of US crude oil production. Oil companies generally claim that offshore drilling is a safe and overregulated practice. However, a report recently released by the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, 350 Louisiana, and Disastermap.net appointed that, only in 2016, there were 479 reports of offshore oil accidents in the northern Gulf that dumped nearly 18,000 gallons of oil and other substances into the environment. These were just small routine accidents that were self-reported by the oil companies responsible. The report’s authors then compared these data with the one collected by a non-profit organization that uses satellite imagery to detect and monitor the environmental impact of industrial activity. The conclusions were that the total amount of oil spilled in the northern Gulf last year was closer to 875,000 gallons, about 50 times larger than official estimates.

Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Response

On April 20, 2010, an explosion occurred at the Deepwater Horizon rig, in the Gulf of México. Two days later, the rig sank to the ocean floor and oil started leaking from a pipe connected to the well, causing the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

Satellite data was essential in the immediate aftermath of this disaster to understand the spatial distribution of oil thickness patterns, for immediate spill response activities and for subsequent evaluation of the spill impacts.

Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Response

Deimos Imaging and its two satellites Deimos-1 and Deimos-2 are the perfect tool to monitor and timely detect any oil leakage or accidents, prompting a quick emergency response and hence helping to minimize damages. Moreover, through its 24/7 Emergency Service, Deimos Imaging is able to deliver a processed image in less than 30 minutes from its acquisition by the satellite. Thus, it can be of essential support in emergency situations and rescue operations, ensuring reliable delivery, which is key for coordination with local authorities, and offering accurate information of high quality in an accessible and user-friendly format.