Natural Disaster Mitigation

“Satellite remote sensing is providing a systematic, synoptic framework for advancing scientific knowledge of the Earth as a complex system of geophysical phenomena that, directly and through interacting processes, often lead to natural hazards”

(Blom et al, 2005)

After my last post, highlighting the use of remote sensing in the recovery from natural disasters, I thought it would be good to show what remote sensing can do to limit the destruction. I found a great journal on this topic by Blom et al (2005) they discuss the best natural disasters to detect, and  provide a great insight into the methods are used to do so. Unfortunately, the two disasters I have previously mentioned (the Boxing Day Tsunami and Haiti Earthquake) would not be the easiest to predict and mitigate at short notice, as with Earth observation science (remote sensing) we look for changes to the Earth’s surface; as seismic activity occurs within tectonic plates they naturally occur below the surface. Although, I still believe that remote sensing when applied in this way could save thousands of lives and limit destruction.

Blom et al (2005) states that the remotely sensed data collected plays an integral role in reconstruction the recent history of the land surface and therefore this data can be used to predict the likelihood of a hazard due to previous events.  Figure 1 below, shows the wet soil conditions surrounding the Tisza Rover Basin in Eastern Europe from analysis of QuickScat and MODIS data which predicts the likelihood of a flooding event (Blom et al, 2005) meaning warning systems can be put in place to limit devastation to anthropogenic activity. The continuous development of the technologies used and obtainment images, creates a long term time-series of images which are utilized for mitigation and prediction of events. Maybe these continued developments could lead to seismic predictions?

Figure 1: Application of MODIS and QuickScat data of the Tisza River Basin in Eastern Europe, used to predict the likelihood of a flooding event. (Source: Blom et al, 2005).

Figure 1: Application of MODIS and QuickScat data of the Tisza River Basin in Eastern Europe, used to predict the likelihood of a flooding event. (Source: Blom et al, 2005).

In lectures we also learnt about the ‘International Charter, Space & Major Disasters’ (ICSMD). This organisation aims to provide a unified system of space data acquisition and delivery from Authorized Users (ICSMD, 2014). The organisation has been operational since 1st November 2000. Remote sensing has provided information about natural disasters which can act as warning systems as their research addressing the operational requirements of decision support systems used by policy makers, (ICSMD, 2014).



Blom, R. G., Donnellan, A., Evans, D. L., Tralli, D. M. and Zlotnicki, V. (2005). ‘Satellite remote sensing of earthquake, volcano, flood, landslide and coastal inundation hazards’, ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 59(4), pp. 185-198.

International Charter Space & Major Disasters. (2015) About the Charter. [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 12 January 2015) USGS. (2015). 89544590


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