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25 November 2002

The oil spills of Prestige tanker observed from space

On 13th November 2002, the tanker Prestige was wrecked off Galice (Spain) after its crew was rescued. This was the beginning of the third big oil slick in Galice history. This event was monitored from space by satellite-embedded high resolution microwave radars.

prestigepte carte

GALICIA, Spain 19 Nov : A crippled tanker carrying more than 20 million gallons (around 67,000 tons) of oil split in half off the northwest coast of Spain, threatening one of the worst environmental disasters in history.

Several earth observation satellites routinely acquire high resolution image of the sea surface. Radar sensors, which are notre sensitive to clouds, are particularly suited to follow the temporal and spatial evolution of oil slicks. This page presents images of Synthetic Aperture Radars onboard the european Envisat satellite and Canadian Radarsat satellite.



detail3 oil spill 17 november 02 : Image of the Synthetic Aperture Radars of the Envisat satellite. Image showing, in black, the oil slick released by the tanker.
sar 20021117 The wind field from the ECMWF analysis has been superimposed on the previous image.
radarsat 25 11 25 november 02 : Image of the Synthetic Aperture Radars of the Envisat satellite.
radarsat 25 11 zoom Zoom : we can observe a rotation and a shortening of dominant waves in the area around where short waves are damped by the oil slick (low intensity spot).
photo sat04radarsat On 18th november, the Radarsat SAR image shows the arrival of the Prestige oil slicks at the Galicia Coast. The Prestige tanker sinks on the next day.
photo sat05marea20negra On 18th november, detail of the previous image showing the distribution of the slick near the coast.
photo sat05V1ICBF76
photo sat10radarsat 25 11 c
photo sat11contour3zoom
photo sat12contourhot