Why is it important?

Remote and challenging regions, such as Northeast Greenland, are difficult to map in detail, and existing topographic maps in Greenland are usually inaccurate with undefined or undocumented features and characteristics.

This makes it difficult to create an Environmental Oil Spill Sensitivity Atlas for NE Greenland, which already exists for West and South Greenland. Such atlases require a topographic base map and information on the physical environment.

With freely and commercially available satellite imagery as well as advanced image analysis coupled with local knowledge it is possible to provide detailed characteristics of the coastal zone in the arctic waters without the safety risks associated with traditional survey methods and at a much more cost-efficient rate, resulting in reliable and objective data.

Project highlights:

Geological and morphological classification of the coastline in NE Greenland aiming to be included in an oil spill sensitivity atlas providing the foundation for a planning tool for when an emergency response is needed

Determining the intertidal zone in the area and calculating depth of shallow waters

All derived products made publicly available through a governmental spatial infrastructure platform

In more detail..

The project used remote sensing approaches to map and characterize the coastal zone within the planned oil spill sensitivity atlas which includes off-shore hydrocarbon areas of interest in NE Greenland.

Using new methods within satellite remote sensing data gives the possibility of providing updated products at a higher resolution in a timely manner.

This work will be highly complementary to the coarser scale but larger regional coverage of the planned atlas, which will be based on existing data. Both products will act as a validation tool for the other, and will also allow for the opportunity to examine advantages and limitations of the different approaches.

The demonstration mapping products have all been based on satellite information that would facilitate an upscaling of the mapping allowing to cover large and poorly mapped regions of the Arctic.

An important part of the existing oil spill sensitivity atlases is the analysis of the oil spill resistance of the coast. General coastal morphology and geology determines how oil spills will be absorbed by the materials along the coast or washed off. This is traditionally done by a manual assessment using available topographic maps and low resolution satellite images in segments of a few kilometers along the coast.

The new analyses would be beneficial to the atlas as it can detect straight or complex coastlines for the identification of risk of possible oil concentrations caught in pocket beaches or other complex morphologies. It can also determine geology types indicating where the oil would be absorbed or rejected and the new information about tidal zones would indicate where oil would be saturated.

The project has been conducted collaboratively with a team of experts from our partners Asiaq, GINR and DCE.