Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Researchers use satellites to measure inland floods

Ohio State University News: Satellites that were designed to measure sea level over the world's oceans can serve a valuable purpose over land, a new study has found. Researchers used NASA's TOPEX/Poseidon satellite and the European Space Agency's ENVISAT satellite to measure the height and extent of flooding in North America, South America, and Asia.

The study shows that satellites can supplement the measurements that the United States Geological Survey (USGS) gathers from flood gauges on the ground -- at little or no cost, said C.K. Shum, professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University.

"After a flood, we can look back at the satellite data to pinpoint when the flood began, and find out how far the flood waters extended, which is really important for flood modeling," he said.

…The researchers want to automate the software so that it can build an archive of flood data. Since the satellites are already in orbit collecting the data, there would be little cost beyond building the database and enabling scientists to access it…

A flood gauge in Germany, shot by Frank Vincentz, Wikimedia Commons,
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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