Earth Observation: Humanitarian Disaster Response

CLIENT: Various, International Charter Space and Major Disasters

LOCATION: Global applicability

BGC exploits satellite remote sensing data for the monitoring of natural disasters and their effects. Earth observing satellites capture data that can be used to support the various phases of disaster risk management. These data have been used to monitor a wide range of hazards including the detection of active fires and post-fire damage assessment, mapping inundated areas following flood events, the detection of landslide scars and the mapping of surface deformation and damage due to earthquakes, among others.

To support international disaster management, BGC supports the Canadian Space Agency as a  Value-Added Provider (VAP) to the International Charter Space and Major Disasters. The Charter promotes cooperation between spaces agencies and the public and private sector scientific communities to reduce Earth Observation data to meaningful insights for assisting emergency response efforts. 

In a recent example, BGC acted as value added provider for the 17 August 2021 Charter Activation for the flooding in Haiti caused by Tropical Storm Grace. The flooding and extreme weather conditions caused flash floods and landslides and further complicated rescue efforts following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake on 14 August. BGC supported these efforts by generating inundated area datasets using the Canadian Space Agency Radarsat Constellation Mission (RCM) data as well as the European Space Agency (ESA) Sentinel-1 data. Areas affected by co-seismic landslides were identified using freely available Sentinel-2 data (ESA), and high resolution Kompsat data provided by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute. Future work will develop platforms for the rapid assessment of different disaster events exploiting space-based earth observation products and an online platform for viewing and serving the derived products.