Active Archive of Large Floods, 1985-Present

Master Index of Inundation Maps

The Surface Water Record

Satellite River Discharge Measurements

River Watch

Other Flood Detection Tools

Sample Images and Maps






Space-based Measurement, Mapping, and Modeling of Surface Water

For Research, Humanitarian, and Water Management Applications

Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System
INSTAAR, University of Colorado, Campus Box 450, Boulder, CO 80309 USA

Flood Observatory Mission Statement

The Dartmouth Flood Observatory was founded in 1993 at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH USA and moved to the University of Colorado, INSTAAR in 2010.

Flood Observatory Director Albert Kettner and Founder and Associate Director Robert Brakenridge

Flood Observatory Web Map Server

Latest Flood Mapped:


2020USA4915 (below is subscene from May 20, 2020, 11:21 AM EST)


Recent Floods Mapped:

2019Philippines4827 Typhoon Kammuri2019Nigeria4820; 2019SouthSudan4813; 2019Oman (Tropical Storm Hikaa) 4802; 2019USA (Tropical Storm Imelda) 4797; 2019Spain4796; 2019Cambodia4795; 2019Sudan4786

Index of All Floods Mapped


Poem for a Transnational River

"I was meant for all things to meet: to make the clouds pause in the mirror of my waters, to be home to fallen rain that finds its way to me, to turn eons of loveless rock into lovesick pebbles and carry them as humble gifts back to the sea which brings life back to me."

Current Flooding

(Red: Reported major floods during past 20 days. White squares: Surface Water Watch displays)

Whole Earth image from JHT's Planetary Pixel Emporium


River and Reservoir Watch

DFO's River and Reservoir Watch provides experimental, fully-automated satellite-based river discharge and reservoir area measurements.

Twice-daily updates at 2:30 and 14:30 Local Denver Time

See Movie of this Display

River Watch 3


Flood and Drought Affected Watersheds

Twice-daily updates at 2:30 and 14:30 Local Denver Time

System was interupted December 31, 2019 and has not yet been restored.

See Movie of this Display


Current NASA Worldview MODIS-Terra Display


SSMI/SSMIS/AMSR2 Total Precipitable Water


Rivers in southern India flooded after passage of a tropical depression in 2015: River Watch Site 2041


River Watch sites also track droughts: River Watch Site 277, Zambezi River, Zambia.


Large and Extreme floods listed in the DFO Flood Archive (scale on left axis)

Compared to River Watch Floods of Record (scale on right axis)

Among other interesting trends, these results show the intense El Niño event of 1997-1998 strongly affected global flooding both as recorded in media and government reports (DFO Flood Archive) and in the River Watch array of satellite river gauging sites. The latter data are here compiled only from those sites with complete 1998-present periods of records (sites at lower latitudes than 45 degrees N and S). The flood of record at fully 32 of these sites, dispersed globally, occurred in 1998. 1998 ultimately became the warmest year in recorded history (up until then).


Geographic Centers of floods in the FloodArchive, 1985-2010

Movie of Flood Locations, 1985-2016

Colorado Public Radio Interview: "The 2013 Floods Made the Research Personal"

Science Article about DFO by Jason Plautz

2018 AGU Book Chapter, Flood Risk Mapping From Orbital Remote Sensing

Survey of DFO Projects and Products

The Flood Observatory facilitates use of space-based information for international flood detection, flood response, future risk assessment, and hydrological research. In 2013-2017, it led a NASA Applied Sciences project to assist World Food Program use of flood mapping information. Click on video below for visualization of WFP logistics.



View Web Statistics

free counters 

(counting since February 7, 2012)

Creative Commons License
This work, web site, and associated data are by G. R. Brakenridge and A. J. Kettner and are provided here under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. With attribution, they can be used and shared freely for non-commercial purposes. Commercial use is available by permission.




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.

http://floodobservatory.colorado.edu/Flood Observatory