Presentation Title

Using Google Earth Engine to Assess Impacts of Oil and Gas Extraction on the Siberian Tundra

Authors' Names

Nicholas Kline

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Abstract

Climatic warming of the Arctic is leading to changes in the tundra landscape. Thawing permafrost begins a chain of biophysical feedbacks, which are accelerated by development, such as oil and gas exploration and extraction. Due to restricted access to oil and natural gas fields, in situ environmental impact studies are seldom allowed. Satellite imagery analysis provides a mean for assessing impacts in areas with limited access. Sitting atop one of the world’s largest and most productive natural gas basins, the Yamburg Oil and Gas Field serves as a useful case study to assess the effects of infrastructure on a permafrost landscape.

This project quantifies land-cover disturbance seen during the development and expansion of the gas field. Google’s recently developed, free cloud-based image processing platform, Google Earth Engine, was used to detect, map and quantify the impacts of infrastructure on the Tazovsky Peninsula. This study utilized Landsat 4, 5, and 8 satellite imagery in approximately 10-year intervals from 1985 to 2016, spanning the initial development through full production. Analytic metrics included the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, NDVI, which assesses vegetation greenness, landscape fragmentation statistics, and “density slicing” of the NDVI. After assessing vegetation health and land-cover changes by these methods, results quantified the impacts of extraction infrastructure on the neighboring landscape. As distance from the infrastructure increased, the associated impacts decreased linearly.

Conclusions made from this case study not only further our understanding on the impacts of climatic warming and infrastructure development in the Arctic, but also explore a new method for future remote sensing studies of land-cover change. Google Earth Engine allows streamlined access to large archives of satellite imagery coupled with powerful processing capabilities to harness the methods necessary to help address diverse global and societal challenges.

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Apr 27th, 11:00 AM Apr 27th, 12:00 PM

Using Google Earth Engine to Assess Impacts of Oil and Gas Extraction on the Siberian Tundra

UC Ballroom (Center)

Climatic warming of the Arctic is leading to changes in the tundra landscape. Thawing permafrost begins a chain of biophysical feedbacks, which are accelerated by development, such as oil and gas exploration and extraction. Due to restricted access to oil and natural gas fields, in situ environmental impact studies are seldom allowed. Satellite imagery analysis provides a mean for assessing impacts in areas with limited access. Sitting atop one of the world’s largest and most productive natural gas basins, the Yamburg Oil and Gas Field serves as a useful case study to assess the effects of infrastructure on a permafrost landscape.

This project quantifies land-cover disturbance seen during the development and expansion of the gas field. Google’s recently developed, free cloud-based image processing platform, Google Earth Engine, was used to detect, map and quantify the impacts of infrastructure on the Tazovsky Peninsula. This study utilized Landsat 4, 5, and 8 satellite imagery in approximately 10-year intervals from 1985 to 2016, spanning the initial development through full production. Analytic metrics included the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, NDVI, which assesses vegetation greenness, landscape fragmentation statistics, and “density slicing” of the NDVI. After assessing vegetation health and land-cover changes by these methods, results quantified the impacts of extraction infrastructure on the neighboring landscape. As distance from the infrastructure increased, the associated impacts decreased linearly.

Conclusions made from this case study not only further our understanding on the impacts of climatic warming and infrastructure development in the Arctic, but also explore a new method for future remote sensing studies of land-cover change. Google Earth Engine allows streamlined access to large archives of satellite imagery coupled with powerful processing capabilities to harness the methods necessary to help address diverse global and societal challenges.