In the rapidly expanding field of oil exploration and production, there is an emerging requirement to reliably detect, characterize and geospatially map oil spills in ice-covered waters during both summer and winter months in the Arctic. This paper postulates two possible platform-based sensor architectures and examines predicted performance for the following:

  1. an airborne, high-search-rate Spectral Fluorescence/Reflectance Lidar (SF/RL) that has the potential to detect and geolocate oil beneath the Arctic ice as well as accurately measures ice thickness and

  2. an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV)-borne sensor that can operate between the seafloor and the base of the ice utilizing an active optical spectral detection and discrimination sensor for oil trapped under the ice, settling on the seafloor and drifting in the water column. Search rates for an aircraft at 2,000 ft and 125 kts through 4 inches of snow and 8 feet of ice with nominal Lidar system parameters is predicted to be 336 km2/hr (1.5 km swath width and 20 m spatial sampling). The AUV-borne sensor would be composed of a compact SF/RL payload that conically scans ± 50° from nadir at a nominal oil detection depth of 75 ft.

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