Cleaning up our seas - EMSA and GÉANT identifying European maritime oil spills
October 2012 | Cambridge, UK
CleanSeaNet monitoring system combines satellite images and high speed networks to fight pollution at sea
Advanced, real-time monitoring technology is helping to detect and identify oil spills in European waters. Developed by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), the CleanSeaNet service analyses satellite data with powerful software to monitor and collect evidence of polluting vessels, acting as a powerful deterrent and safeguarding the environment. Key to this process is satellite imagery, transmitted by the high speed research networks of GÉANT and its National Research and Education Network (NREN) partners.
Speed is of the essence
As oil spills change very rapidly, speed is of the essence when it comes to alerting authorities in member states about maritime pollution. CleanSeaNet uses the high speed and unmatched availability of the pan-European GÉANT network and national research networks (NRENs) to transmit enormous 1Gb satellite images from receiving stations across Europe for processing within tight timescales.
This fast transmission allows CleanSeaNet to combine the data with its web-based Geographic Information System (GIS) and provide alerts to relevant member states within 30 minutes. This gives authorities the ability to respond quickly, enabling them to launch timely clean-up initiatives and use the evidence in the prosecution process.
“Given the need to transmit huge files in extremely tight timeframes, CleanSeaNet values the high speed and high bandwidth provided by GÉANT and Europe’s national research networks. They help us to protect European seas from pollution, delivering the real-time data that underpins CleanSeaNet’s mission.”
Olaf Trieschmann, Senior Project Officer, CleanSeaNet
CleanSeaNet is built on advanced technology, with low orbit radar satellites downlinking over 2,000 images per year to receiving stations in Norway, Italy, Portugal and France. It is then processed and sent via local NRENs (UNINETT in Norway, GARR in Italy and RENATER in France) across GÉANT and via FCCN in Portugal to the EMSA HQ in Lisbon for processing.
Number of oil spills cut by half
Since CleanSeaNet went live in 2007 the number of oil spills detected on the images taken in European waters has decreased by half. While this is due to a range of factors including better ship design and greater environmental awareness, CleanSeaNet is a strong deterrent tool in safeguarding the European maritime environment.
“Cutting marine pollution, such as oil spills, is central to safeguarding the environment, but the sheer size of European seas, combined with the number of vessels travelling through them makes detecting and collecting evidence on polluters similar to finding a needle in a haystack.”
Matthew Scott, joint general manager, DANTE, the organisation which on behalf of Europe’s NRENs has built and operates the GÉANT network.
“By using advanced research networks this ground-breaking project is delivering real benefits to the European maritime environment and the lives of people across the region.”
Find out more at www.emsa.europa.eu
or read the EMSA and GÉANT case study