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AIR-SOS: AIRBORNE & SATELLITE OBSERVATION STRATEGIES FOR MARINE LITTER MONITORING

Thu, 03/31/2022 - 18:10
Start Date: 
2020
Programme: 
Discovery
End Date: 
2021
Programme Reference: 
20-D-T-TEC-01-f
Country: 
Luxembourg
Contractor: 
SkyfloX
Status: 
Closed
Description: 

Marine Litter is a global issue and can be found in all the seas from the equator to the poles, and in freshwater systems, such as rivers and lakes. Most of the marine litter is plastic and, as plastic production continues to increase, greater impacts are expected. Plastic marine litter dramatically affects marine life and ecosystems and has a great economic impact

The emerging field of satellite remote sensing for plastic detection is promising, but reliable in situ validation data are required to improve algorithms and approaches.

SkyfloX, Plymouth Marine Laboratory and Aufwind proposed to include General Aviation airplanes to validate and assess marine litter detection. The AIR-SOS (AIRborne & Satellite Observation Strategies for marine litter monitoring) study aimed to collect high-quality and high-resolution data in coastal waters near the mouth of the River Elbe. A seaplane (Lake Buccaneer) was used to collect multispectral data coincident with Sentinel-2 satellites overpasses to validate current algorithms and methodologies. In this way, the project assessed and demonstrated the value of the aircraft as a platform for validation of Sentinel-2 data.

For this project a multidisciplinary team was required. SkyfloX has experience with payload design and flight campaigns from previous projects with large consortia (DOCS-1 flight campaigns/ DOCS-2 payload design), whereas Plymouth Marine Laboratory has experience in marine litter detection projects including the PML-led ESA OPTIMAL feasibility study, which demonstrated the ability to detect floating marine vegetation, plastics and debris in Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite imagery. Aufwind has expertise in flight training, flight operations and aircraft maintenance, as well as compliance management in aeronautical areas. Aufwind also owns a seaplane, LAKE LA- 4-200, formerly used for oil spill surveillance in the North Sea, which is used for this project.

The ability to fly sensors on general aviation aircraft at a lower cost, at lower altitudes (visual cross-checks) and the possibility to perform in-situ measurements (sea-landings) makes this a multi-functional ‘platform’ suitable for systematic validation of satellite remote sensing detection of marine litter. Ultimately, our methods and sensors could be used to complement satellite observations using multiple general aviation aircraft or the ORCA constellation (Optical and Radiofrequency Constellations on Airplanes).

(see also article on SkyfloX website)

Application Domain: 
Earth Observation
Keywords: 
Marine Litter