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Satellites take sustainability to new heights
Date:3/25/2008

sand deposits represent the equivalent of between 17 and 25 trillion oil barrels, although unlike conventional crude oil they need to be mined or extracted in situ rather than simply pumped to the surface and then specially treated before they can be transported via pipelines.

As global oil reserves dwindle, the cost of extracting Canada's oil sands has become feasible: one million barrels of oil are currently extracted daily and this figure has the potential to double in the next five to seven years. However this extraction should be carried out while managing the impact on the Alberta landscape.

Eyes in the sky

EO provides objective coverage across both space and time, EO images show the world through a wide-enough frame so that complete large-scale phenomena can be observed with great accuracy. Satellites also remain in place for long periods, making them able to highlight environmental changes occurring gradually.

The focus of the satellite data used in this project was to help quantify habitat change in various ways and to understand how a habitat may be influenced by the oil sand operations.

ESAs Envisat satellite acquired eight Full Resolution images with its optical instrument, Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS), covering the entire northern oil sand region, from 2004 to 2006. Envisats Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) instrument acquired three alternating polarisation images, one in 2004 and two in 2006. SPOT-5 acquired five multi-spectral images of the same region, an area of approximately 18 000 sq km, in 2006.

The before-and-after images record the development of oil sand activities at the Muskeg River Mine and Jackpine Mine in the Athabasca region of northeast Alberta.

According to Shell, the images allowed them to monitor vegetation, track land use changes, capture roads, power lines and other installations that can fragment habitat. They also provide them wi
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Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
mariangela.dacunto@esa.int
39-069-418-0856
European Space Agency
Source:Eurekalert

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