Environmental Sensitivity Index, Puget Sound, Washington, 2006

Jan 25, 2014
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This service shows the Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) developed for the Cook Inlet and Kenai Peninsula, AK, in 2002. Both linear and polygonal shoreline features are included here. Associated GIS datasets can be downloaded here.

ESI maps use shoreline rankings to rate how sensitive an area of shoreline would be to an oil spill. The ranking scale goes from 1 to 10.

A rank of 1 represents shorelines with the least susceptibility to damage by oiling. Examples include steep, exposed rocky cliffs and banks. The oil cannot penetrate into the rock and will be washed off quickly by the waves and tides.

A rank of 10 represents shorelines most likely to be damaged by oiling. Examples include protected, vegetated wetlands, such as mangrove swamps and saltwater marshes. Oil in these areas will remain for a long period of time, penetrate deeply into the substrate, and inflict damage to many kinds of plants and animals. 

You can also visit NOAA's photo collection, ESI Shoreline Types, to see photos of many of the shoreline types.

Classifying Shorelines for ESI Maps
To assign each shoreline a rank from 1 to 10, ESI map developers use information and observations from a combination of sources:
  • Overflights
  • Aerial photography
  • Remotely sensed data
  • Ground truthing (visits to individual shorelines to assess aerial observations)
  • Existing maps and data

Establishing Shoreline Rankings
ESI shoreline rankings are defined using factors that influence sensitivity to oiling, including:
  • Relative exposure to waves and tidal energy
  • Biological productivity and sensitivity
  • Substrate type (grain size, permeability, trafficability, and mobility)
  • Shoreline slope
  • Ease of cleanup
  • Ease of restoration

More Information about ESI Maps
Anatomy of ESI Maps: Learn about the basic elements of ESI maps.
Biological Resources: Learn how ESI maps categorize and display oil-sensitive animals and their habitats, and habitats that are themselves sensitive to spilled oil (such as coral reefs).
Human-Use Resources: Learn how ESI maps categorize and display the location of human-use resources (such as public beaches) that are vulnerable to oil spills, or that could be used as access points for oil spill cleanup.
Data Provided By:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Ocean Service, Office of Response and Restoration, Emergency Response Division
Data Hosted by:
ScienceBase (USGS) View Record
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NOAA, Office of Response and Restoration
7600 Sand Point Way, N.E.
Seattle, WA 98115-6349
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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Ocean Service, Office of Response and Restoration, Emergency Response Division
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Dataset Type:
External Map Service (ArcGIS)
Bookmarked by 2 Groups
Included in 2 Public Maps
Included in 1 Public Gallery , 1 Private Gallery

About the Uploader

North Pacific LCC Data Coordinator
with NPLCC

The North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative promotes development, coordination, and dissemination of science to inform landscape level conservation and sustainable resource management in the face of a changing climate and related stressors