Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Step 2: Calculate the size of the oil spill

SkyTruth obtained satellite images from NASA and the University of Miami every few days for weeks following the spill to track the oil’s spread. Using the same images that SkyTruth used, calculate the size of the BP oil spill on three different days early in the spill as it continued to spread.

Area: how big was the spill?


1.  First, go to the Guide to Using Google Earth and download the instructions on how to use Google Earth to document the oil spill on satellite images.

2.  Then, go to the satellite images of the oil spill provided in the KMZ file.  Practice using Google Earth on the image provided of April 25, 2010 and record your result in the calculations worksheet provided.

3.  Pick either April 27 or April 29 to determine your second area.  SkyTruth identified the slick area on April 27,  but clouds on that day can make identifying the oil slick confusing.  See if you can outline the oil slick despite the clouds on April 27, as SkyTruth did.  Or, outline the slick two days later on April 29, when clouds didn’t disrupt the view.

4.  Finally, outline the spill area on May 1.