Landsat's Critical Role in Responding to Natural Disasters
In 2011, natural disasters affected 206 million people worldwide, costing a record-setting 355 billion dollars. Fire, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters can be particularly tragic and costly when critical facilities such as power plants, airports, roads, and hospitals are threatened. When a disaster strikes, remote sensing is often the only way to get a big-picture view of what is happening on the ground. With its consistent, reliable, repeated observations of Earth’s changing surface, Landsat keeps a record of Earth’s land surfaces before and after disasters, serving as an essential tool for assessing risk, mapping the extent of damage, and planning post-disaster recovery. Landsat produces 185-kilometer-wide images with 30-meter resolution in visible and infrared wavelengths of light, making it possible to map impacts on the landscape in ways otherwise not visible to human sight. For example, Landsat sensors enable us to see the heat from fires both during and after the burns, and the lava flows from volcanic eruptions even when gaseous substances obscure the view to human eyes.
Global Survey Using Landsat Shows Dramatic Growth of Glacial Lakes
Using 30 years of Landsat data, researchers have found that the volume of glacial lakes worldwide has increased by about 50% since 1990.
40 Years After Mount St. Helens’ Eruption, 40 Years of Forest Recovery
Landsat data (since 1972) is helping scientists Sean Healey and Zhiqiang Yang of the Rocky Mountain Research Station (U.S. Forest Service) study the long-term impact of the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mount St. Helens.
Mapping it Out: Flooding & Landslides in Madagascar
Landsat continues to support the International Disaster Charter.
Tracking New Hydrothermal Activity in Yellowstone
Landsat is among the resources that scientists are using to assess hazards and track volcanic activity in Yellowstone.
Watching Glacier Bay National Park Change
December 11, 2019 • Dr. Christopher Shuman is a glaciologist with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Maryland at Baltimore County. Here is what Chris shared with us
Mapping Past Floods to Help Predict Future Ones
Landsat has enabled a more thorough understanding of how the Central Valley landscape is impacted by floods.