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National Geodetic Survey

NGS Remote Sensing Division

Gulf Coast Deepwater Horizon Incident Imagery

Aerial Photography and Shoreline Mapping

Deepwater Horizon Incident, Office of Response and Restoration

National Geodetic Survey

Supporting the Deepwater BP Incident Response with a View From Above

aerial photo

The National Geodetic Survey is collecting aerial photographs of areas in the Gulf for both pre- and post-oil landfall, in an effort to protect wildlife and the shoreline.

When responding to an oil spill the size of the one associated with the Deepwater Horizon incident, often the best perspective is from high above. NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey (NGS) is on the scene of the spill providing just that by collecting aerial images to capture a bird’s eye view of the spill and coastal areas in the Gulf of Mexico.

NGS recently deployed a flight crew and sensor operators to the Gulf to provide aerial imagery support for the spill. The imagery is being collected from NOAA’s latest addition to its aircraft fleet, a Beechcraft King Air 350. The King Air is outfitted with state-of-the-art mapping sensors. Data acquisition in the Gulf will focus on the land-water interface, in high-priority areas in an effort to protect wildlife and the shoreline.

NGS also provided remotely sensed imagery from previous mapping projects to help response personnel assess shoreline features that were present prior to the spill.

NGS has been collecting aerial photographs of our nation’s coast since the early 1900s. Following an incident such as an oil spill or a natural disaster such as a hurricane, NGS photos provide emergency and coastal managers with information needed to develop recovery strategies, identify hazards, and locate errant vessels. The images also provide documentation necessary for damage assessment through the comparison of before and after imagery.

These photos are not just used to support disaster response. NGS aerial photos are also used to define the national shoreline, create maps and charts, and monitor environmental change. More than 500,000 photo negatives, dating from 1945 to the present year, exist in NOS archives and are maintained by the National Geodetic Survey.