It has been nearly two years since SEASAT, the first satellite dedicated to Oceanography, was launched. During its one hundred days, SEASAT's Imaging Radar penetrated clouds and foul weather operating day and night, mapping pertinent areas of the globe with better than 25m ground resolution. The Gulf of Alaska and Beaufort Sea areas were completely covered during SEASAT's lifetime in support of special experiments using aircraft, ship, and buoy measurements of sea conditions. This significant area of future offshore oil and gas activities now has SEASAT data to compare with previous in situ surveys. Radars potential for assisting future activities in these developing areas can now be evaluated. This paper describes the results of over 18 months of SEASAT data analysis in these regions. Wave spectral analysis, object/ background analyses, wind field results and sea state information is related specifically to future offshore activities. SEASAT Radar Images in currently active offshore regions showing drill ship, platform and pipeline operations are also analyzed to demonstrate future applications.
Companies involved in the exploration, development and production of oil and gas resources are dealing with an environmentally dependent venture. This is particularly true for offshore or arctic activities where good and timely information about encroaching or future conditions can spell the difference between success or failure, profit, or loss. Although "ON SITE" measurements are taken and forecasting services attempt to customize existing Weather Service data to improve local predictions, the search for better information goes on. A recent example of this quest are the more than twenty groups of oil and gas, ocean mining, shipping and fishing companies that funded their own experiments to use SEASAT data. For the first time they had a remote sensing tool that came close to matching their needs. In the cases where weather satellites and sometimes available aircraft data provide visible or infrared images of surface conditions; satellite images were hampered by cloud cover and aircraft, flying cameras, were thwarted by inclement weather. SEASAT using a combination of active and passive microwave sensors had an all weather day/night capability, and similar instruments on aircraft can fly at above ceiling altitudes while still penetrating thru the weather layer.
The SEASAT Program provided a base for the use of space platforms for global and local explorations into the dynamics and resources of the ocean; into the effect of the ocean on weather and climate; and into the role the ocean plays in ice and coastal processes. It has now been conclusively demonstrated that wave heights, sea-surface directional wind velocities, temperature, and topography can be measured from space. This information can be used in such economic and social applications as improving the efficiencies of weather or sea state related operations in the marine industries; providing better warning of severe wind, rain or wave conditions; providing a means of improving or regulating the resource yield in many marine industries; providing improved navigation through ice and currents; and creating a better understanding of the ocean and its dynamics.