Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Risk assessment in the Mekong Delta via satellite

Space Mart: The Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam is more than just a tourist paradise. It is also of vital importance for the life of millions of people. In order to ensure the sustainable and environmentally friendly development of this sensitive area, Germany and the Vietnamese authorities are setting up the WISDOM information system (Water-related Information System for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam).

The project is led by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen.

Thanks to its fertile soil and the water of the Mekong River, the conditions for the cultivation of rice, tropical fruits, sugar cane and coconuts in the Delta are ideal. Moreover, the Delta, covering an area of about 70 000 square kilometres criss-crossed with river branches, provides a habitat for a rich variety of species.

However, the Vietnamese government is facing increasing challenges due to high population growth, water pollution and increased flooding. Plans for new dams in the Mekong riparian countries leave the inhabitants of the Delta facing an uncertain future. WISDOM is designed to help the authorities recognise potential risks at an early stage.

In principle, the information system functions in a way similar to "Google Earth": At the click of a mouse, it gives access to for instance terrain data, population density, water quality, flooding risks and other indicators for the selected areas of the Mekong Delta….

WISDOM's satellite map of the Mekong Delta, with purple for the sites where research and measurements were undertaken. From the German Space Center's website

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