Our Projects

Oil Pollution

  • BP/Deepwater Horizon Spill
    The 2010 BP/Deepwater Horizon disaster was a tragic catalyst for SkyTruth when we exposed the true severity of the spill through analysis of satellite imagery. While BP tried to downplay the amount of oil gushing into the gulf, our analysis showed that official estimates grossly underreported the scale of the catastrophe.
  • Offshore Drilling
    Using satellite imagery and public pollution reports, SkyTruth keeps a close eye on oil pollution around the world. We testified before Congress on the Montara oil spill in the Timor Sea in 2009, and reported on major incidents including a Chevron oil spill off Brazil, a Shell oil spill off Nigeria, and blowouts at oil and gas platforms in the Caspian Sea. We believe consistent vigilance on this issue compels more timely and accurate reporting from responsible parties, better oversight by regulators, and greater public understanding of the risks inherent with offshore drilling.
  • Gulf of Mexico
    SkyTruth, a charter member of the Gulf Monitoring Consortium, works with Gulf Coast partners to monitor and report on pollution from fossil fuel and petrochemical extraction, transportation, and production. SkyTruth monitoring revealed oil wells leaking continuously since 2004.  We support volunteer monitoring flights to fill the gaps in regulatory oversight, facilitate citizen pollution reporting, and publish maps and reports addressing chronic pollution and industry vulnerabilities in the Gulf.
  • Bilge Dumping
    Ships at sea sometimes bypass their pollution control systems and flush their oily ballast and bilge water straight into the sea. This practice is known as “bilge dumping” and we have observed it around the world from Corsica to Vietnam. One such vessel, then known as the Dona Liberta, was a ground-breaking case study in using satellite data to identify scofflaw at sea.

Fracking

  • FrackFinder
    In order to engage citizen-scientists and create new data on the impacts of drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking), SkyTruth has conducted a suite of innovative collaborative image analysis projects. Though these crowdsourcing projects hundreds of volunteers helped us map fracking-related impoundments in Pennsylvania and measure the drilling infrastructure footprint in Ohio. Sign up today to be notified of the next FrackFinder project!
  • Data Daylighting
    In order to better inform the dialogue about the impacts of oil and gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, our technical team works to make timely drilling-related data accessible to the public, media, regulators, and decisionmakers. Our persistent call for transparency ultimately pushed industry-funded FracFocus.org to make their fracking chemical data available in machine-readable format; and subscribers can sign up to receive free email notifications of new drilling activity and violations in select states through our SkyTruth Alerts system.
  • Flaring
    Using infrared satellite data we publish a dynamic map of natural gas flaring around the world. This project was validated by on-the-ground investigation in North Dakota’s Bakken shale and reveals where gas is being burned off in open flames at oil wells, fracking operations, and refineries.

Mining

  • Mountaintop Removal
    Using satellite imagery going back over thirty years SkyTruth has produced detailed, decade-by-decade maps of the actual footprint of mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining in Appalachia. These data have been used in six peer-reviewed studies on the public and ecological health impacts of MTR, with direct impact on government mining policy. To further enhance this unique dataset we are working to use cloud computing to refine and update the data on an annual or biannual basis.
  • Appalachian Water Watch
    To aid eyewitness reporting of pollution in the coalfields SkyTruth developed the Appalachian Water Watch tool for our partners at Appalachian Voices. This tool enables volunteers and citizens to report exposure to pollution from incidents such as the Elk River Chemical Spill in Charleston, W. Va., and Dan River Coal Ash spill in Eden, N.C., as well as receiving free email notifications of new pollution reports from official sources and other eyewitnesses.
  • Crisis Response
    When disaster strikes at large open pit mine, the downstream impact can often be seen from space. From the Mt. Polley gold mine disaster in Canada to the Samarco iron mine disaster in Brazil, SkyTruth reports on the aftermath of major mine disasters and provides cautionary context for future mine projects. We also use public data to map other issues such as the tens of thousands of abandoned coal mines and inactive metal mines that dot the U.S. landscape.
  • Illustration and Simulation
    Using satellite imagery and geographic information systems (GIS) SkyTruth maps mining activity around the world, measuring the footprint of existing mines and creating simulations to visualize the potential impact of proposed mines. Our projects include reporting on existing mines such as the Grasberg Mine in Indonesia, the Berkeley Pit in Montana, and the massive tar sands mining operations in Alberta, as well as proposed mines like the Pebble Gold Mine in Alaska and the Resolution Copper Mine in Arizona.

Vessel Activity

  • Global Fishing Watch
    SkyTruth is the operator and lead developer of Global Fishing Watch, a partnership with Oceana and Google to map all of the trackable commercial fishing activity in the world, in near-real time, and make it accessible to researchers, regulators, decision-makers, and the public. Using cloud computing, machine-learning, and vessel location data picked up by satellite, we have developed a tool that will turbocharge transparency initiatives and scientific research. Global Fishing Watch was launched in Washington, DC, in September, 2016 and is now freely available to everyone with an internet connection.
  • Monitoring and Enforcement Support
    Using satellite data to identify vessel activity at sea is a major technical challenge, but our first proof-of-concept came when we successfully identified the culprit of a 90-mile oil slick off the coast of Angola. We honed our skills monitoring the waters around Easter Island for illegal fishing with radar satellite imagery and AIS data, and now monitor fishing fleets and protected waters around the globe.  SkyTruth analysis aided the government of Palau in catching a Taiwanese fishing vessel loaded with shark fins and illegally-caught tuna, contributed to a Pulitzer-prize winning investigation into illegal fishing and slavery at sea, and played a role in the blacklisting of the world’s largest fishing vessel.

Education/
Citizen Science

  • SkyTruthing for Students
    SkyTruth is empowering  the next generation of skytruthers and environmental scientists through the development of a curriculum which teaches students about remote sensing and mapping.