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Uncrewed Aircraft Systems Oil Spill Response Job Aid

Aerial view from uncrewed aircraft, showing oiling in a creek bed.
Aerial view of Santa Paula Creek in California, where there is an active oil seep flowing into the creek. Image credit: Research Planning, Inc.

When spilled oil or other hazardous material contaminates shoreline habitats, responders must survey the affected areas to determine the appropriate response. During a shoreline survey, some shorelines may be inaccessible to field teams on foot for reasons including tide levels, environmental hazards, sensitive habitats, etc.

A portable small Uncrewed Aircraft System (sUAS) with photo and video capability can be quickly deployed to look for moderate to heavy oil in inaccessible areas.

A sUAS is also useful for monitoring and recording response strategies, such as shoreline treatment or proper deployment of sorbents. It provides a unique perspective and can even be used to help plan and direct operations.

View and Print the Job Aid: Uncrewed Aircraft Systems Oil Spill Response Job Aid [PDF, 1.5 MB]: Published in 2021.

A sUAS can be used during different phases of the Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique (SCAT) process and can provide significant cost savings, particularly when used in place of traditional aircraft for reconnaissance overflights.

This Job Aid was developed to supplement the NOAA Shoreline Assessment Manual, which outlines methods for planning and conducting shoreline assessment and incorporating the results into the decision-making process for shoreline cleanup. Although the Job Aid was written for oil spills, it may also be useful for hazmat discharges or marine debris events.


Funding for this Job Aid was provided by NOAA’s Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program, within the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), in collaboration with the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) and the UxS Executive Oversight Board (EOB) to accelerate the transition and regular utilization of UAS in NOAA. The Job Aid was developed by Research Planning, Inc., in close collaboration with NOAA OR&R's Emergency Response Division.

More Information about Job Aids

Job Aids for Spill Response: Learn more about the job aids that OR&R has created to help oil spill responders complete their response tasks.

Questions: Contact us with any questions, comments, or suggestions related to NOAA Job Aids.

Last updated Tuesday, September 28, 2021 7:54pm PDT