SkyTruth announces the launch of Cerulean, a new technology platform to detect ocean polluters.
Recently at COP 28, we launched the beta version of Cerulean, SkyTruth’s long-awaited global monitoring system for ocean oil pollution and its possible sources. Cerulean is the first free, publicly available tool that maps and monitors ocean industrial pollution events and attributes them to specific actors using machine learning, cloud computing, and satellite imagery.
For too long it’s been easy to ignore what takes place far out at sea, and impossible to know who’s responsible for “mystery” oil spills that wash ashore with distressing frequency, but those days are coming to an end. Cerulean will shine a bright light on this hidden problem and give our partners powerful new tools to bring an end to chronic oil pollution in the ocean.
What are the findings so far?
Our initial 12-month analysis from the platform revealed more than 1,000 oil slicks from vessels, suggesting that ships may be dumping more than 80 million gallons (approximately 1.8 million barrels) of oily sludge annually, taking a toll on marine ecosystems, coastal communities, and the climate. For the first time, anyone with an internet connection can examine marine oil pollution incidents, investigate their possible sources, and take action using Cerulean.
Though no model is perfect, our system results point you toward possible slicks and sources, which you can then verify using our interactive map interface. We provide some simple guides to help you with that verification. Cerulean will continue to grow and develop through user feedback and added functionality.
Cerulean is now online and ready for testing.
Why is Cerulean necessary? Why is it significant that anyone can access it?
Right now, there are approximately 8,000 oil platforms plus 50,000 large cargo ships and tankers operating on the world’s seas on any given day. These numbers are growing rapidly with increasing globalization and the rush to exploit the Earth’s untapped oil reserves that lie beneath the seafloor. Chronic oil pollution is one of the consequences of these activities.
Cerulean represents significant progress in the democratization of ocean pollution-detecting tools. The model allows anyone to easily detect slicks and identify likely culprits. Through this technology, we hope to support climate and marine conservation advocates, journalists, enforcement agencies, and any individuals or organizations that strive to protect their waters from oil pollution.
SkyTruth has already been using Cerulean behind-the-scenes to expose stories such as the risks of aging oil tankers investigated by the Associated Press; the extent of the offshore oil pollution problem in Europe as reported by the Guardian; and how the 15 million liters (4 million gallons) of oil released into UK waters by the oil and gas industry in the last five years could be impacting whales, dolphins, seals, and other vulnerable marine life.
In 2024, we aim to develop Cerulean into an indispensable tool for stopping ocean oil pollution and revealing the hidden consequences of offshore oil and gas production. To do that, we’re planning some important work for the coming year:
- Slick detection: Continue to improve the accuracy of the Cerulean oil slick detection model.
- Alerting: Add the ability to be notified when new slicks and potential sources appear in your area of interest.
- Capacity building: Empower our partners with hands-on training and feedback sessions, ensuring that Cerulean generates real-world conservation impacts, and that Cerulean continues to get easier to use.
- Impact stories & analyses: Develop powerful case studies and global analyses of the impacts, drivers, and sources of ocean oil pollution using Cerulean.
- Monitoring more environmental impacts: Incorporate new data sources that will help reveal the full cost of global shipping and offshore oil and gas development, including methane leak detection and natural gas flare monitoring.
Have ideas or questions about Cerulean? Reach out to us at email@example.com.