Cyclone Nargis and Myanmar floods seen from space

May 7, 2008
Cyclone Nargis and Myanmar floods seen from space
These Envisat radar images highlight the extent of flooding in the Irrawaddy delta caused by the cyclone Nargis that hit Myanmar on May 3, 2008, devastating the country. The left image, acquired on Feb. 5, 2007, shows the situation approximately one year ago. The black and dark areas in the image on the right, acquired on May 5, 2008, indicate areas potentially still flooded two days after the event. Envisat's Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar data are especially well suited for delivering information on floods, which are usually accompanied by rain and therefore cloudy conditions. Radar sensors can peer through clouds, rain or local darkness and are especially sensitive to moisture on the ground. Credit: ESA

Envisat captured Cyclone Nargis making its way across the Bay of Bengal just south of Myanmar on 1 May 2008. The cyclone hit the coastal region and ripped through the heart of Myanmar on Saturday, devastating the country.

On 4 May, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) asked the International Charter on 'Space and Major Disasters' for support. The initiative, referred to as ‘The Charter’, was founded in October 2000 by ESA, the French space agency (CNES) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). It is aimed at providing satellite data free of charge to those affected by disasters anywhere in the world.

With inundated areas typically visible from space, Earth Observation (EO) is increasingly being used for flood response and mitigation. One of the biggest problems during flooding emergencies is obtaining an overall view of the phenomenon, with a clear idea of the extent of the flooded area.

The series of Envisat radar images highlights the extent of flooding in the Irrawaddy delta caused by the cyclone. Envisat’s Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) acquired the image on the left on 5 February 2007, and the image on the right on Monday (5 May 2008).

The left image shows the situation approximately one year ago. The black and dark areas in the image on the right indicate areas potentially still flooded two days after the event. ASAR data are especially well suited for delivering information on floods, which are usually accompanied by rain and therefore cloudy conditions. Radar sensors can peer through clouds, rain or local darkness and are especially sensitive to moisture on the ground.

The recent image was delivered in Near Real Time and processed to correlate to the previous image. Both images have a 75 m pixel grid on the ground and show an area approximately 100 km wide.

Source: European Space Agency

Explore further: NASA's GPM sees dry air affecting Typhoon Halola

Related Stories

NASA's GPM sees dry air affecting Typhoon Halola

July 24, 2015

The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission core observatory passed over Typhoon Halola and saw that the northern side of the storm lacked rainfall. Dry air moving into the storm from the north was sapping the development ...

NASA sees Tropical Cyclone 12W grow into a Tropical Storm

July 24, 2015

Tropical Depression 12W (12W) formed on July 23 in the Philippine Sea, near the northeastern tip of the Luzon region of the Philippines. The storm intensified into a tropical storm as NASA's Terra satellite passed overhead ...

NASA sees Typhoon Nangka leaving the Marianas

July 10, 2015

NASA's Aqua satellite saw the massive Typhoon Nangka moving out of the Marianas Islands, while NASA's RapidScat instrument pinpointed the location of its strongest winds.

Recommended for you

Dense star clusters shown to be binary black hole factories

July 29, 2015

The coalescence of two black holes—a very violent and exotic event—is one of the most sought-after observations of modern astronomy. But, as these mergers emit no light of any kind, finding such elusive events has been ...

Image: Hubble sees a dying star's final moments

July 31, 2015

A dying star's final moments are captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The death throes of this star may only last mere moments on a cosmological timescale, but this star's demise is still quite ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.