Thursday, March 20, 2014

When waters rise: NASA improves flood safety

NASA: Flooding is the most frequent and widespread weather-related natural disaster, taking a huge toll in lives and property each year. NASA Earth-observing satellites and airborne missions provide vital information to emergency planners, relief organizations and weather forecasters, helping to improve flood monitoring and forecasting, as well as providing a more comprehensive understanding of one of Mother Nature's most damaging hazards.

NASA's Earth-observing satellites provide detailed images of flood-affected areas, which are vital for mapping flood extent. For i
nstance, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites monitor a broad area of our planet, providing visible-light imagery, infrared information and other types of data on a daily basis to scientists and emergency managers. The Landsat satellites in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey provide even higher-resolution imagery, which can be used to map Earth's land surfaces before and after disasters. Landsat serves as an essential tool for assessing flood risk and mapping the extent of damage for post-disaster recovery. Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) is an advanced land-imaging mission that includes three advanced land imaging instruments and five revolutionary cross cutting spacecraft technologies.

The United Nations World Food Programme, which delivers food relief to inundated areas, uses NASA Earth science satellite-based flood maps to locate floods and map delivery routes to affected areas. Contractors with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also use Landsat imagery to track urban development, which can affect an area's flood risk....

In the spring of 2011, heavy rains and snow pack resulted in record releases from dams in Montana and the Dakotas, and near-record flooding along parts of the Missouri River. One especially hard-hit community was Hamburg, Iowa, where levee failure in early June caused extensive flooding and the evacuation of many homes. By late June, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had rebuilt the levees and Hamburg was protected from additional flooding. The left image, acquired on Sept. 24, 2010, was taken by the Thematic Mapper sensor aboard Landsat 5. The right image, acquired on Aug. 2, 2011, was taken by the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus on Landsat 7.

No comments: