Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Extended cyclone relief efforts aided from space

04.07.2008
Earth observation satellites have provided vital information to relief workers in Myanmar throughout a particularly long crisis response window following the devastating Cyclone Nargis that hit the country on 2 and 3 May 2008.

Immediately after the disaster, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) asked the International Charter on 'Space and Major Disasters', referred to as ‘the Charter’, for support by providing immediate crisis mapping of the affected areas.

Following the request, rapid mapping products were created with Earth observation (EO) satellite acquisitions taken in the wake of the event to derive an estimation of the flood surge impact and other damage information to help plan emergency response operations.

Damage maps were able to be created quickly because the RESPOND project, which delivers satellite mapping for disaster reduction and humanitarian aid, had delivered EO-derived topographic maps of Myanmar a month before the disaster.

This activity was part of a project to help local communities reduce exposure to disaster risks. This enabled the RESPOND team to compare up-to-date basic maps before the disaster with satellite images acquired during or after the cyclone impact.

Thanks to the Charter more than 10 different sensors – radar and optical – from several EO missions provided more than 60 satellite images, which were used to derive 29 damage maps.

These maps were provided to the UN community in Myanmar and Bangkok for the emergency response phase, which lasted more than 40 days because of the scale of devastation caused by Nargis and the difficulties encountered by the international humanitarian community to access the country.

To provide aid workers with timely and synoptic damage information, space agencies and service providers worked around the clock. RESPOND’s partner UNOSAT – UN provider of EO mapping services to the humanitarian aid community – called on RESPOND providers SERTIT of France and the German Centre for satellite-based crisis information (ZKI) of DLR to join their mapping efforts under the coordination of Infoterra UK.

"It is important to differentiate map products according to the needs and, in a case like this, to firstly get an overview and then move into more detailed assessments as the relief operation progresses," explained Dr Einar Bjorgo, head of UNOSAT, who was designated as the Project Manager for this activation, a rotating role assigned by Charter members.

After the acute phase of the disaster had passed, the range of mapping products was extended to provide further details on the condition of roads, bridges and buildings. For instance, UNOSAT teamed with GISCorps, a US-based non-profit association, to digitise every building pre-disaster from the available data. These maps were highly accurate, showing features of less than one metre in size.

In addition to Charter members, other EO missions’ data were made available by space agencies, such as the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the German Space Agency (DLR), and imagery providers, such as the Canadian MDA and the American Digital Globe.

To date, the map products have been used by over 40 organisations, including non-governmental aid organisations based in Myanmar, such as the Red Cross, and governmental organisations, such as the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) and the Myanmar Department of Forestry.

The Red Cross printed several sets of maps and sent them with their team to Myanmar, hoping to have better access to the field.

"We download your maps and use [them] in rescue works," Myanmar national rescue worker Prof. Charlie Than said.

Thant Lwin Htoo from Myanmar emergency response actions said he downloaded maps of Hpontawbye village for emergency relief activities.

Products have been used to plan field assessments, provide synoptic views for resource mobilisation and decision-making, and are currently being exploited to gather hazard damage-related information that can be used for reconstruction purposes.

"It was important to continually produce damage assessment maps for aid workers because very severe rain events occurred in the days following Nargis," said SERTIT Director Paul de Fraipont. "Based on feedback from specialists in the field, this made the products even more useful."

Particular attention was paid to the coordinated dissemination of products to ensure aid workers were able to quickly gain access to these maps; all maps using Charter data were made freely available on the RESPOND and UNOSAT websites as soon as they were produced.

In addition, the maps were accessible via UN OCHA’s Reliefweb and Reuters Alertnet with direct RSS feeds constantly accessible to over 400 non-governmental organisations.

The International Charter on 'Space and Major Disasters', an initiative of ESA and the French Space Agency (CNES), currently has 10 members, including the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Argentine Space Agency (CONAE), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the British National Space Centre/Disaster Monitoring Constellation (BNSC/DMC), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

Mariangela D'Acunto | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEM68CSHKHF_environment_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Hope to discover sure signs of life on Mars? New research says look for the element vanadium
22.09.2017 | University of Kansas

nachricht Calculating quietness
22.09.2017 | Forschungszentrum MATHEON ECMath

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>