Dartmouth Flood Observatory tracks the aftermath of Katrina

September 12, 2005

HANOVER, N.H. - Researchers with the Dartmouth Flood Observatory at Dartmouth College have been working with state and federal officials, along with representatives from NGOs, to help map and analyze the flooding that has occurred as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

The maps not only provide an overview of the impact and enormity of the flooding, they also preserve a day-to-day record of this flood to be analyzed in the coming months. The images will also be archived to support research into global flooding trends and climate change.

The DFO's director, G. Robert Brakenridge, says that the partnerships between organizations have been vital to quickly assembling maps that illustrate current flooding and outline other areas for potential flood activity. The DFO was the first to publish on the Internet, on August 31, regional detailed maps of the flood inundation. Some of the DFO's maps are used by media.

Brakenridge, a research associate professor of geography at Dartmouth, explains that high-resolution data is not needed for initial mapping efforts. In fact, to obtain high-resolution data of specific sites, satellites require some lead time to orbit to reach the part of the Earth that's involved. Using NASA's MODIS- (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) equipped satellites, the DFO receives images quickly.

Brakenridge says, "MODIS doesn't provide high spatial-resolution imagery. Each image pixel represents about 250 meters. We can't see individual houses or roads, but the entire Earth is covered, twice per day. The sensors are always on, and always downloading the image data, so we can obtain decent quality imaging of flood water quickly. That is important. MODIS was not planned at all for its use in natural disasters, but it has proven its utility time and time again."

Brakenridge participates in a daily teleconference with various officials representing FEMA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Army and the Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to name a few. On the table for discussion is coordination between the agencies; dissemination of aerial, satellite and field-based data; and avoiding duplication of efforts. This daily exchange of information speeds the map making and map distribution processes. Another helpful asset is the International Charter for Space and Major Disasters. Satellite data from other countries, such as from the French SPOT satellite, was made available to US disaster response organizations, including the DFO, and in agreement with a memorandum of understanding signed by most of the world's space agencies.

"University and college research groups, like the DFO, can help improve society's response to natural disasters," says Brakenridge. "We can sometimes be much more nimble than large federal agencies in using satellite data in new ways, and we can more quickly produce inundation maps that might be useful to emergency response personnel."

Brakenridge and his team have distributed similar maps during other flooding events, such as during the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in December 2004, and during the flooding in the Dominican Republic in May 2004. Maps, flood archives and more information available at www.dartmouth.edu/~floods

Dartmouth College

Related Flooding Articles from Brightsurf:

Coastal flooding will disproportionately impact 31 million people globally
Indiana University researchers analyzed these geographic regions, which include cities like New Orleans, Bangkok, and Shanghai, using a new global dataset to determine how many people live on river deltas, how many are vulnerable to a 100-year storm surge event, and the ability of the deltas to naturally mitigate impacts of climate change.

New woodlands can help reduce flooding risk within 15 years
New research by the University of Plymouth suggests the planting of more trees could have a significant and positive effect in preventing flash flooding.

Land use change leads to increased flooding in Indonesia
While high greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss are often associated with rapid land-use change in Indonesia, impacts on local water cycles have been largely overlooked.

Climate change: Coastal flooding could threaten up to 20% of global GDP
Coastal flooding events could threaten assets worth up to 20% of the global GDP by 2100, a study in Scientific Reports suggests.

River plants counter both flooding and drought to protect biodiversity
'Water plants are a nuisance in streams, blocking the flow.

Scientists predict dramatic increase in flooding, drought in California
California may see a 54 percent increase in rainfall variability by the end of this century, according to research from a UC Davis atmospheric scientist.

Multiple flooding sources threaten Honolulu's infrastructure
In a study published in Scientific Reports, researchers at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, found in the next few decades, sea level rise will likely cause large and increasing percentages of land area to be impacted simultaneously by the three flood mechanisms.

Climate change: Extreme coastal flooding events in the US expected to rise
Extreme flooding events in some US coastal areas could double every five years if sea levels continue to rise as expected, a study published in Scientific Reports suggests.

Study find delta helps to decrease the impact of river flooding
Most coastal cities and ports face a double threat from storm surge and river flooding.

Texas A&M researchers develop flooding prediction tool
By incorporating the architecture of city drainage systems and readings from flood gauges into a comprehensive statistical framework, researchers at Texas A&M University can now accurately predict the evolution of floods in extreme situations like hurricanes.

Read More: Flooding News and Flooding Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.