The Federal Oil Spill Team for Emergency Response Remote Sensing, FOSTERRS: Enabling Remote Sensing Technology for Marine Disaster Response
Oil spills cause significant to devastating ecological, economic, and societal damage, requiring years to decades for recovery. In cases of floods such as those associated with Hurricane Katrina, both oil and marine debris can enter the ocean, with debris posing its own hazards and ecological damage. In other cases, massive debris introduction can occur from natural causes such as the great Japanese tsunami in 2011.
These disasters demand the best available technology for response, damage mitigation, and remediation efforts. Disaster response remote sensing can play an important role by greatly leveraging available resources and assets and in mitigating consequences, as demonstrated during the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The extent and persistence of DWH overwhelmed traditional airborne observers, ability to monitor the spill’s development, with rapid response remote sensing filling critical response needs such as providing synoptic information on the spill. Still, incorporation of many remote sensing technologies faced significant challenges during the oil spill response.
To facilitate the sharing of remote sensing capabilities and to discuss improvements in disaster response, the Federal Oil Spill Team for Emergency Response Remote Sensing (FOSTERRS) interagency working group was created. Specifically FOSTERRS seeks to connect agency information on airborne and space borne asset’s availability, limitations, capabilities and performance, and ancillary data needs to stake holders and responders. FOSTERRS comprises members from agencies with remote sensing assets and key end users, while outreaching to the larger community involved in marine disaster response and the development and implementation of remote sensing best practices.
KeywordsFOSTERRS Oil spill response Deepwater horizon
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