I’ve recently begun volunteering at SkyTruth, a non-profit group that “promotes environmental awareness and protection with remote sensing and digital mapping technology.”

Specifically, I’m helping gather data about oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico that have occurred over the last decade.  To do this, I’m looking at satellite images from NASA and comparing them to National Response Center (NRC) reports that have been filed to see if the quantity of material reported matches what we see in the images.  My workhorse application is Google Earth so I can make notes, measure the slicks, and analyze the images against our data maps throughout the Gulf region.

An example image I’m working with:

I really didn’t know much about either the process of drilling in the Gulf or the bureaucracy involved.  But working with John (the President) has been an eye-opening experience and quite rewarding as I manage to find good images to analyze.  (There are a limited number of months when the sun is at the right angle to detect slicks, and clouds often obscure the area I need to examine).

I’ve just finished the 2009 images, and I’ll post more soon about what I’ve learned from my analysis so far.

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