#Success_story_2019: LIST-developed flood monitoring technology has been put to practical use in flooding emergencies from Mozambique to Myanmar.
With the consequences of climate change under ever greater scrutiny, the race is on to develop technology to predict, monitor and mitigate the impact of natural disasters. At the forefront of these efforts are LIST’s researchers Marco Chini, Renaud Hostache, Patrick Matgen, and Ramona Pelich, whose satellite data processing and hydraulic monitoring models are attracting increasing international attention for their practical application.
In March 2019, Cyclone Idai made landfall in southern Africa devastating the central region of Mozambique. It was one of the worst tropical cyclones ever to have hit the Southern Hemisphere. Hundreds of thousands were affected with the international community launching an emergency response to the considerable needs. Part of this included the use of flood maps developed at LIST using satellite data through the HASARD® tool and made available on the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Grid Processing on Demand (GPOD) platform. Those responders making use of them included the NASA Earth Science Disasters Program, the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) and the Global Flood Partnership. “We have used a new version of our algorithm in order to detect impacted areas within the city of Beira. In addition, an exploitation platform and cloud computing allowed us to process a large amount of data in a timely manner” said Marco Chini. “We have shared our maps with both scientists and various relief organizations and have received some positive feedback”.
Whilst the HASARD® tool was being rolled out operationally for the first time, the same group of researchers were fast at work on the next stage of its development. The aim of the e-Drift project was to enable the creation of almost real-time flood monitoring in South-East Asia providing data on the size of flooding and estimates on affected persons in risk-prone areas in Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. While previous versions of our algorithm had to be manually triggered, HASARD® on e-Drift would work autonomously, or “hands-free”, and be more geared towards commercial application; for example, in the disaster risk financing sector. HASARD® has been live on the e-Drift platform feed since May 2019. The team’s next milestone is to ensure its real-time application on a global scale, and not just locally to South-East Asia. “e-Drift enables new near-real-time flood monitoring in South-East Asia, giving accurate information on the extent of flooding, as well as the number of affected persons in risk prone areas of Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. This provides reliable and useful input data to insurance companies, allowing them to improve their emergency response”, said Patrick Matgen, responsible for the Earth Observation component of the project.
The fairest indication of the extent of the team’s ground-breaking work in satellite remote sensing and hydraulic modelling has arguably been the size of its presence at IGARSS last summer in Japan. The largest event of its kind in the fields of geoscience and remote sensing, IGARSS (International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium) this year prominently featured contributions from both Marco and Ramona on their work. “During the IGARSS conference we organized a tutorial where, in addition to scientifical presentations, we offered hands-on training for the HASARD® service implemented on ESA GPOD and e-Drift platforms” says Ramona. Buoyed by further funding from the National Research Fund (FNR), Marco, Patrick, Renaud and Ramona are already hard at work looking at again further extending these LIST-developed products and technologies. The latest venture with an anticipated commercial application is TransparentSea, a joint project with LuxSpace to detect the presence of illegal shipping. It’s a team on a roll and one making LIST very proud. Watch this space!
Picture - from left to right: Patrick Matgen, Ramona Pelich, Renaud Hostache and Marco Chini.