Multifrequency Radar Imagery and Characterization of Hazardous and Noxious Substances at Sea
The increase in maritime traffic, particularly the transport of hazardous and noxious substances (HNSs), requires advanced methods of identification and characterization in environmental chemical spills. Knowledge about HNS monitoring using radar remote sensing is not as extensive as for oil spills; however, any progress on this issue would likely advance the monitoring of both chemical and oil-related incidents. To address the need for HNS monitoring, an experiment was conducted in May 2015 over the Mediterranean Sea during which controlled releases of HNS were imaged by a multifrequency radar system. The aim of this experiment was to establish a procedure for collecting evidence of illegal maritime pollution by noxious liquid substances using airborne radar sensors. In this paper, we demonstrate the ability of radar imagery to detect and characterize chemicals at sea. A normalized polarization difference parameter is introduced to quantify both the impacts of released product on the ocean surface and the relative concentration of the substance within the spill. We show that radar imagery can provide knowledge of the involved HNS. In particular, one can distinguish a product that forms a film on the top of the sea surface from another that mixes with seawater, the information that is critical for efficient cleanup operations.