Developing an environmental oil spill sensitivity atlas for the West Greenland coastal zone

Anders Mosbech, David Boertmann, Louise Grøndahl, Frants von Platen, Søren Stach Nielsen, Niels Nielsen, Morten Rasch, Hans Kapel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in bookResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Marine oil spill sensitivity mapping has become widespread. The purpose is to provide oil spill response planners and responders with tools to identify resources at risk, establish protection priorities and identify appropriate response and cleanup strategies. GIS is an important tool in the development of oil spill sensitivity maps and can also be used for presentation. Several different principles for information integration have been used in different countries (Anker-Nilssen, 1994; Dickens et al., 1990; Hall et al., 1997; Nansingh & Jurawan, 1999; Moe et al., 2000). An environmental oil spill sensitivity atlas was produced as part of the preparations for exploratory drilling off the West Coast of Greenland (Mosbech et al., 2000). We have adapted a Canadian sensitivity index system integrating physical, biological and human-use information and combined it with elements from a Norwegian sensitivity mapping system. The Atlas covers the West coast of Greenland between 62° N and 68° N latitude. Although the area under study stretches only 700 km from north to south it encompasses approximately 18,000 km of coastline. It is the most populated area in Greenland with about 35,000 inhabitants living in 4 towns and 6 settlements. It is extremely important for fisheries and it is ecologically highly important for a number of seabird and marine mammal species. The Atlas is a multidisciplinary GIS project integrating many kinds of scientific data and local knowledge (traditional ecological knowledge). Although studies on geomorphology and coastal spawning areas were initiated for the project it was a major challenge to compile and get the most out of the existing data from many sources. This paper will outline and discuss how the data was integrated, the principles used to identify and prioritise the sensitive areas, the final Atlas product, and the dialogue during the community consultation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGIS for Coastal Zone Management
EditorsDarius Bartlett, Jennifer Smith
Place of PublicationFlorida, U.S.A..
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4200-2342-8
ISBN (Print)978-0-4153-1972-0
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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