Using space technology to monitor flooding in Thailand

Severe flooding affected large stretches of Thailand’s Chao Phraya River
Severe flooding affected large stretches of Thailand’s Chao Phraya River in October 2011.
Credits: NASA

The South Asia region is especially prone to flooding. Annually, flooding takes hundred of lives and causes damages in tens of billions US dollars.

In a collaboration of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute of Thailand, sensorweb technologies are being used to enhance monitoring of flooding especially in Thailand. This technique is used for detection, early warning and analysis of high resolution imagery.

Using MODIS imagery the system is able to automatically detect flooding areas. In partnership with other automatic and semi automatic tools information about the spread and depth of surface water is analyzed and forwarded to appropriate disaster response points of contact. Depending on the timing and the sensor used the whole process of detection and delivery can take from one to several days.

Future plans include integrating in-situ data sources and hydrological models as well as additional sensors such as ASTER.