Scientists have discovered that the majority of persistent oil slicks around the world can be traced back to human sources.
The research team of Chinese and U.s. scientists discovered that humans cause 90% of the world’s chronic oil slicks.
The groundbreaking study is a significant departure from previous wisdom, which attributed around half of oil slicks to human causes and the other half to natural causes. The latest findings were published in the journal Science.
As part of the research, the team used artificial intelligence to examine more than 560,000 satellite radar images dated between 2014 and 2019. This allowed them to build a bigger picture and determine the extent, location, and probable cause of chronic oil pollution.
Commenting on the research study, Ian MacDonald, co-author and professor at Florida State University stated:
“What’s compelling about these results is just how frequently we detected these floating oil slicks — from small releases, from ships, from pipelines, from natural sources such as seeps in the ocean floor and then also from areas where industry or populations are producing runoff that contains floating oil…If we can take those lessons and apply them to places globally, where we have seen high concentrations of oil slicks, we could improve the situation.”
While Yongxue Liu, the study’s corresponding author and professor at Nanjing University’s School of Geographic and Oceanographic Science stated:
“Satellite technology offers a way to better monitor ocean oil pollution, especially in waters where human surveillance is difficult.”
You can find the original study here.