Whole Earth image from JHT's Planetary Pixel Emporium
(click on map above for individual Surface Water Record map displays)
The Surface Water Record is a comprehensive map record of the Earth's changing surface water (including current flooding or drought). It is accessed by clicking on one of the grid squares illustrated above. Links to GIS data supporting the displays are also provided. This 20 year long effort has been sustained by grants and contracts from NASA, the European Commission, the World Bank, the Latin American Development Bank, and by Dartmouth College and the University of Colorado. Version 3 is fully automated with daily updates.
(counting since February 7, 2012)
Daily updates complete at 13:40 MST/20:40 UTC
River Watch 2 is an experimental river discharge and watershed runoff measurement system. One capability is to detect and measure floods. Satellite microwave sensors provide global coverage of the Earth’s land surface on a near-daily basis and, at certain wavelengths, without major interference from cloud cover. Using a processing strategy first developed for wide-area optical sensors (1), these sensors (e.g. AMSR-E, AMSR-2, TRMM, and GPM) can measure river discharge changes. As rivers rise and discharge increases, river measurement sites can very sensitively monitor these changes (2, 3). Transformation of the remote sensing signal to discharge values is accomplished via a rating equation (as is the case for stage-based discharge measurements on the ground). For River Watch 2, the calibrating discharge values are obtained by runs of a global runoff model (4).
Seven-day watershed Runoff Measurements from the River Watch Processor
Some Sample Results and Services
MODIS NRT coverage of the Colorado River Delta, during recent augmentation of flow from the U.S. See also article and ppt time series. Purple: water imaged in Februay, 2000 by the SRTM mission but not mapped by current MODIS data (only extending 10 km seaward from the coast). Dark blue: water was present in 2000, and is also currently mapped by MODIS. Light blue: water is being observed by MODIS, but was not present in February, 2000. Very light gray: maximum extent of water mapped by MODIS, yr 2000-present. Obtain Geotiff version.
Sample of NASA Landsat 8 coverage of January, 2014 flooding in the United Kingdom. Bands 4, 3,and 2 at 30 m spatial resolution were used in this subscene from an image acquired January 7. Red is water along the Upper Thames. See slides also, and a BBC video.
Sample of drought (reduced surface water) mapping in the Central USA, Summer, 2012 using NASA MODIS data.. Yellow shows new dry land. See appropriate sheets of the Surface Water Record when droughts are underway. As well, the runoff displays above may be used to look for areas of surface water anomalies. In 2014, we will be moving increasingly to Google Earth and Google Maps platforms.
Plot of total number of large and extreme floods listed in the DFO Flood Archive.
DFO began its work in 1993 using ESA ERS-1 SAT data to map the Great Flood of the Upper Mississippi Valley, USA. We have employed a variety of sensors since then to map floods. See Rapid Response Inundation Maps for many of the results.
Red: Flooding on dates shown. Light Red: Previously flooded this event; now dry. Blue: Reference Water (permanent water bodies).
The Flood Observatory facilitates practical use of space-based information for international flood detection, flood response, future risk assessment, and hydrological research. In 2013-2017, it is leading a NASA SMD/ESD Applied Sciences Program project to improve World Food Programme use of flood mapping information. Click on video below for visualization of WFP logistics.
This web site and associated data by G. Robert Brakenridge and Albert J. Kettner are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
This work is made possible by data acquired by NASA, the Japanese Space Agency, and the European Space Agency, and funding support from NASA and the European Commission, through the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) project, Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy. The Observatory was founded in 1993 at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH USA and moved to the University of Colorado, INSTAAR, CSDMS in 2010. The institutional support of both universities is gratefully acknowledged.