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.
These maps, provided to responders for free, often show where the damage is and where crisis victims are, allowing responders to plan and execute relief support.
The International Charter is a system that supplies free satellite imagery to emergency responders anywhere in the world. The Charter concept is this: a single phone number is made available to authorized
Decades of Foothill Forest Growth in Sierra Nevada Mountains Erased Due to California’s Extreme Drought
Analyzing a three-decade record of vegetation cover change from the Landsat to compare previous controls on Sierra Nevada forest growth rates and effects of recent fluctuations in water availability since the mid-1980s.
NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Landsat satellite images over the past three decades showed that the severe drought periods recorded since the 1980s have not slowed rapid tree and shrub growth, especially on steep slopes burned recently by wildfires.
The Charter concept is this: a single phone number is made available to authorized parties providing 24/7 contact to a person who can activate the charter. Once activated, a project manager takes charge.
On April 27, 2011, a severe weather outbreak occurred across the southeastern United States, resulting in 199 tornadoes across the region and over 300 fatalities.