Satellite remote sensing data can provide crucial information for managing natural disasters. How can developing countries access and make use of these data? And what must policymakers do to prepare?
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ZKI — run by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) — acquires, processes and analyses satellite data to provide information on natural disasters and help guide relief activities. It publishes maps on potential building damage, population density and affected areas for all sorts of disasters including earthquakes, fires, landslides and floods.
ZKI also runs a fire service for Europe and North Africa, based on MODIS sensors.
The JTWC public reference website links to data, government departments, organisations and services relevant to tropical cyclones across the world. This includes linking to weather forecasts and bulletins, satellite data, sea surface temperature products and radar imagery. The centre also links to principal news services covering extreme weather and meteorological agencies serving different parts of the world. A selection of training guides and materials is available on topics such as forecasting, satellite image interpretation and disaster preparation among others.
NASA's 'hurricane resource page' provides the latest storm images and data available from NASA together with a tropical weather outlook for the Atlantic Basin. NASA has also published educational tools, including posters and classroom activities that are free for anyone to use. The website includes background information on hurricanes such as fact sheets, lists of satellite instruments used for hurricane monitoring and explanations of how hurricanes form and develop.
RSS publish near-real-time (6–36 hours from time of data collection) maps of sea surface temperatures for cyclone forecasting research. Maps and tracks are available for individual regions and include forecasted paths and wind speeds for tropical storms. Data from two satellites are used to create the maps, which are updated every three hours. An archive of data, including wind speed and track, sea surface temperatures, and rainfall intensity is available for all tropical cyclones since 1999.
SERVIR is a regional environmental imaging and monitoring system — operating in Africa and Latin America — built on satellite and geospatial data. It can monitor and forecast ecological changes and natural hazards. The website publishes interactive maps including near real-time satellite feeds of regional weather and ecological conditions, and real time updates on fires, floods, red tides and weather conditions. It also provides access to 3D imaging software.