Water Resources Research Report



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The objective of this report is to review the existing satellites monitoring Earth’s resources and natural disasters. Each satellite has different repeat pass frequency and spatial resolution (unless it belongs to the same series of satellites for the purpose of continuation of data flow with same specifications). Similarly, different satellites have different types of sensors on-board, such as, panchromatic, multispectral, infrared and thermal. All these sensors have applications in disaster mitigation, though depending on the electromagnetic characteristics of the objects on Earth and the nature of disaster itself. With a review of the satellites in orbit and their sensors the present work provides an insight to suitability of satellites and sensors to different natural disasters. For example, thermal sensors capture fire hazards, infrared sensors are more suitable for floods and microwave sensors can record soil moisture. Several kinds of disasters, such as, earthquake, volcano, tsunami, forest fire, hurricane and floods are considered for the purpose of disaster mitigation studies in this report. However, flood phenomenon has been emphasized upon in this study with more detailed account of remote sensing and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) applicability. Examples of flood forecasting and flood mapping presented in this report illustrate the capability of remote sensing and GIS technology in delineating flood risk areas and assessing the damages after the flood recedes. With the help of a case study of the Upper Thames River watershed the use of remote sensing and GIS has been illustrated for better understanding. The case study enables the professionals and planning authorities to realize the impact of urbanization on river flows. As the urban sprawl increases with the increase of population, the rainfall and snow melt reaches the river channels at a faster rate with higher intensity. In other words it can be inferred that through careful land use planning flood disasters can be mitigated.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Western Ontario


London, Ontario, Canada


Remote sensing, GIS, Land use change, Thames River Basin, Flood disaster, Satellite data


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Report no.: 040

Role of Remote Sensing in Disaster Management