Modelling an expert GIS system based on knowledge to evaluate oil spill environmental sensitivity
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Oil spills cause great damage to coastal habitats, especially when rapid and suitable response measures are not taken. Establishing high priority areas is fundamental for the operation of response teams. Under this context and considering the need for keeping all geographical information up-to-date for emergencial use, the present study proposes employing a decision tree coupled with a knowledge-based approach using GIS to assign oil sensitivity indices to Brazilian coastal habitats. The modelled system works based on rules set by the official standards of Brazilian Federal Environment Organ. We tested it on one of the littoral regions of Brazil where transportation of petroleum is most intense: the coast of the municipalities of Sao Sebastiao and Caraguatatuba in the northern littoral of São Paulo state, Brazil. The system automatically ranked the littoral sensitivity index of the study area habitats according to geographical conditions during summer and winter; since index ranks of some habitats varied between these seasons because of sediment alterations. The obtained results illustrate the great potential of the proposed system in generating ESI maps and in aiding response teams during emergency operations. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.