A NASA-funded study of marine pollution in Southern California concluded space-based synthetic aperture radar can be a vital observational tool for assessing and monitoring ocean hazards in urbanized coastal regions.
Colleagues and DiGiacomo, an oceanographer from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory JPL; the University of California, Santa Barbara; and the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, examined satellite radar imagery of the coastal waters of Southern California. The area is adjacent to 20 million people, nearly 25 percent of the U.S. coastal population. The imaging radar data from the European Space Agency’s European Remote Sensing Satellites 1 and 2 and Canada’s RADARSAT were complemented by shore-based surface current radar data and other field measurements.
The study described three major pollutant sources for Southern California: storm water runoff, wastewater discharge and natural hydrocarbon seepage.