BEIJING, June 17 (Xinhua) -- Chinese and U.S. scientists found that oil spills in global oceans caused by human activities are substantially underestimated, with over 90 percent discharges "anthropogenic."
The study published on Friday in the journal, Science, described the extent, frequency, and probable sources of chronic marine oil pollution.
Scientists from Nanjing University, the University of South Florida, and Florida State University analyzed over half a million Sentinel-1 images provided by European Space Agency from 2014 to 2019.
They found that the proportion of human-induced discharges accounted for 94 percent of the total slicks, much larger than the previous estimate of 54 percent from 1990 to 1999. Other sources of oil slicks include natural seepages from seafloor hydrocarbon reservoirs.
Also, the number of leaking platforms has been previously under-reported as chronic oil slicks are found to be associated with 137 oil platforms, according to the study.
Chronic oil jeopardizes planktonic lifeforms in the oceans that are essential for ocean diversity and health.
The study revealed that oil slicks were primarily distributed along the coasts, with about 90 percent of them within 160 kilometers of the coastline.
The findings can serve as a scientific basis for achieving the sustainable development goals set by the United Nations, the researchers said. ■