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Using NOAA nightfire data to map and to monitor gas flaring in high biological and cultural diversity areas: the case of Yasuni in Western Amazon

Francesco Facchinelli, Salvatore Pappalardo, Edoardo Crescini Di Montevecchio Benedetti, Giuseppe Della Fera, Daniele Codato, Alberto Diantini and Massimo De Marchi

(Submission #297)


Fossil fuel extraction is today world-wide diffused, also in remote biologically and culturally sensitive areas such as the Amazon forest. There is global concern about the expansion of the oil frontier in Western Amazon, especially in the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve (YBR), one of the most biodiverse area on Planet, and ancestral home of the Waorani indigenous people, some of which are still uncontacted (Finer et al 2015; Pappalardo et al 2013). In Western Amazon, direct and indirect impacts among the different phases of oil production are widely documented, both on environment and local communities (Lessman et al 2016, Orta-Maertinez et al 2018; Laurence et al 2018). Within the upstream impacts of industrial processes (seismic exploration, testing and production wells, wastewater disposals) spatial distribution and environmental impacts of gas flaring in the Amazon forest is not deeply investigated, due to a lack of systematic reporting of the flaring locations and flared gas volumes. By using multispectral bands different remote monitoring methods have been developed (Obinna et al. 2015; Elvidge et al. 2016). The aim of the study is to map and to assess historic and new gas flaring activities in the YBR area, analysing potential impacts both on biodiversity and local communities. Daily data produced from the NOAA from January 2017 to March 2018, based on the Nightfire algorithm elaboration of images from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometric Suite on the Suomi-SNPP satellite to monitor gas flaring activities, were analysed and geoprocessed with protected areas and indigenous communities. Only sites with a minimum of 3 detections in a 15 arc seconds grid area were considered. For exact flares positioning, whenever possible, annual databases provided from NOAA were used; for new flares we used centroids of the detections. Preliminary results show the presence of a new flare sites in the Tiputini oil field (concession 43, “block ITT”) near the zoned “core area” of the YBR with 10 detection over the last five months, a mean temperature of 1513 °K, and a mean radiant heat intensity of 1.61 W/m2; 3 flares were detected in the “buffer zone”, while 19 in the “transition zone” of the YBR. Spatial analysis also identified 6 indigenous communities within 1 Km radius from flares. This study reveals the enormous potential of open and big spatial data such as the Nightfire from NOAA to monitor important priorities areas in remote zones for biodiversity conservation and indigenous territory protection.


Topic Area:  [1.2] Environmental monitoring and reporting
Abstract Type:  Oral Presentation

Additional Fields

Academic:   Yes
Data Provider:   No
Data User:   Yes
INSPIRE Implementer (IT):   No
INSPIRE newbies:   Yes
Policy Officers:   No
Public Administration (MS/Regional/Local):   No
Thematic specialists:   No

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