UM’s CSTARS Among Groups to Receive S&T Award for Work on Oil Spill

CSTARS contributes 1,200 images, 120 days, 24/7 decision support tools


MIAMI —(April 20, 2011) — The National Center for Secure and Resilient Maritime Commerce (CSR), a multi-university Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence has received the agency’s coveted 2011 Science & Technology Impact Award. The award recognizes the contributions from three CSR partner institutions for their rapid response during the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. The research labs are the Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing (CSTARS) at the University of Miami, Rutgers University Coastal Ocean Observation Lab (RUCOOL), and Stevens Center for Maritime Systems (CMS).

These critical observation, monitoring, and prediction capabilities provided around-the-clock support for the federal response to the oil spill. Stakeholders that used CSR partner data included: the U.S. Coast Guard, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Navy, U.S. Geological Survey and state and local agencies in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Texas.

“Within days of the DeepWater Horizon platform disaster, CSTARS tasked more than 15 dedicated satellites with weather-independent image collection over the area of the oil spill,” said Dr. Hans Graber, CSR director of research and executive director of CSTARS at the University of Miami. “The quick turnaround and responsiveness of our professional staff for more than 120 days was critical to the overall response efforts.”

CSTARS provided satellite images that offered overall situational awareness of the oil spill to government agencies, as well as the media and the general public. High-resolution radar images proved highly effective in detecting and tracking the spreading of surface oil in ecologically sensitive wetlands and along beaches. NOAA’s Experimental Marine Pollution Surveillance Program produced daily maps, while the Coast Guard generated coastline impact maps for the strategic deployment of resources, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency coordinated airborne overflights and direct ship operations with the Coast Guard and Homeland Security – all using CSTARS images.

RUCOOL coordinated a fleet of autonomous underwater gliders from regional institutions that provided subsurface data on the oil spill. And directed by Dr. Alan Blumberg, Stevens contributed observation and prediction modeling tools and expertise to forecast the potential impact of the oil spill along the mid-Atlantic coastline.

“This award validates the relevance of the research conducted at CSR as essential to the operations and practical applications in the maritime domain,” says Dr. Michael Bruno, director of CSR and dean of the School of Engineering and Science at Stevens. “The CSR team is glad to have made a positive contribution during this event and will continue to conduct relevant research that deals with the response to such disasters in the future.

The images at CSTARS were downlinked from Italy’s Cosmo-SkyMed, Germany’s TerraSAR-X, Canada’s RadarSat, the European Space Agency’s Envisat and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s PALSAR and processed and distributed by a team comprised of Raymond Turner, Michael Caruso, Paul Mallas, Kevin Polk and Jim Brown. Rafael Ramos and Geoff Samuels prepared the image data for the daily briefs sent to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Florida Congressional Delegation.

About the Center for Secure and Resilient Maritime Commerce

The Center for Secure and Resilient Maritime Commerce, along with the University of Hawaii’s National Center for Islands, Maritime, and Extreme Environments Security (CIMES), constitute the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Center of Excellence for Maritime, Island and Extreme/Remote Environment Security (MIREES). The Center supports DHS efforts under NSPD-41 / HSPD-13 to provide for the safe and secure use of our nation’s maritime domain (including island and extreme environments, and inland waterways), and a resilient MTS, through advancement of the relevant sciences and development of the new workforce.

About the University of Miami and CSTARS
The University of Miami is the largest private research institution in the southeastern United States. The University’s mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. Launched in 2003, the Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing (CSTARS) is a major program of the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Employing low earth-orbiting satellite systems, CSTARS scientists conduct research using remotely sensed data. In additional to directly downlinked, high-resolution data for environmental monitoring the Center also furnishes a reliable communications channel for researchers stationed at the Antarctic Southpole Research Station, connecting via VoIP (Voice over the Internet Protocol. For more information, please visit

cstars •  satellite observations •  award •  deepwater horizon •  oil spill •