Cyclone Nargis and Myanmar floods seen from space

May 07, 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: Ariane 5's first launch of 2015

Related Stories

Image: A sky view of Earth from Suomi NPP

Apr 23, 2015

This composite image of southern Africa and the surrounding oceans was captured by six orbits of the NASA/NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership spacecraft on April 9, 2015, by the Visible Infrared ...

The TRMM rainfall mission comes to an end after 17 years

Apr 09, 2015

In 1997 when the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, or TRMM, was launched, its mission was scheduled to last just a few years. Now, 17 years later, the TRMM mission has come to an end. NASA and the Japan ...

Recommended for you

Ariane 5's first launch of 2015

42 minutes ago

An Ariane 5 has lifted off from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana and delivered two telecom satellites into their planned orbits.

Sentinel-2A arrives in French Guiana for 12 June launch

58 minutes ago

The latest satellite for the European Commission's environmental Copernicus programme has arrived safe and sound in French Guiana for launch on 12 June. Carrying a multispectral imager, Sentinel-2A is set ...

User comments : 0

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.