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Special UNISPACE III volume
Marsteller, Deborah

International Archives of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Vol. XXXII Part 7C2, UNISPACE IE. Vienna, 1999
“Remote Sensing for the Detection, Monitoring
and Mitigation of Natural Disasters”
2:30-5:30 pm, 22 July 1999, VIC RoomB
Vienna, Austria
Helen M. Wood and Levin Lauritson
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Washington D.C., USA
Weather satellites have long been used to support forecasting of intensive weather hazards such as tropical cyclones, severe storms and
flash flooding. Although there have been numerous research and operational demonstrations that illustrate the potential usefulness of
EO satellite data for a broader range of hazards, the operational application of these data to other hazards is rare. Recognizing the
potential benefits that could be gained from better application of EO satellite data to natural and techno logical hazards, the Committee
on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) has initiated a project on disaster management support. This project is part of CEOS
involvement in the broader initiative termed Integrated Global Observations Strategy (IGOS). Within this project, several hazard-
specific teams have been formed. These teams are charged with compiling user requirements; identifying shortcomings and gaps in the
provision of required satellite data; and developing recommendations for alleviating them. An information tools team addresses the
tools and techniques that w'ould make it easier to acquire and use satellite data-derived information products. This paper describes that
project -- it’s approach, accomplishments, preliminaiy findings, and plans. More information on the project is located on the project
information server at disaster.ceos.org.
The project is one of six projects sponsored by IGOS. The
goal of IGOS is to derive greater benefit from operating and
planned observing systems—both satellite and non-satellite.
The project’s objective is to support natural and technological
disaster management on a worldwide basis by fostering
improved utilization of existing and planned Earth observation
satellite data. The strong enthusiasm, interest, and support for
the project are reflected in the participation of nearly 200
individuals representing over 90 organizations. Meetings in
1997 surveyed extensive work that demonstrated the use of
Earth observation data for a wide variety of disaster types and
phases. Hazard teams, that include participants from both
satellite agencies and user organizations, were developed in
seven areas: drought, earthquake, fire, flooding, oil spill,
tropical cyclone, and volcanic ash.
A 1998 workshop provided an opportunity for experts to
assess the extent to which satellite data could be expected to
satisfy the needs of organizations responsible for managing
disasters. Participants identified specific user requirements,
where possible, and developed preliminary recommendations
for improving the ability of current and planned systems to
meet these requirements. Subsequently, each hazard team
refined their findings and produced an interim report. Several
regional meeting were held in late 1998 and in 1999. Another
workshop is planned for September 1999 in Hawaii where
hazard teams can further refine user requirements and
recommendations. In the last year, the tropical cyclone team
has been retired and a landslide team has been fonned. The
volcanic ash team has been expanded and renamed to include
all volcanic hazards. Another regional meeting in India is
planned for November 1999.
Hazard teams are charged to review existing documentation
and current practices in different geographical regions and
compile a concise set of user information requirements for
management of the hazard at different phases
(preparedness/waming, relief/response/recovery, mitigation).
They should identify the user level (international, regional,
national, state, local, other) and type of use (research,
demonstration, operational). They should identify existing
practices in using satellite data in the management of the
hazard; assess the potential of existing or planned satellite
data to satisfy the user information requirements; analyze
shortcomings and gaps; and make recommendations for
Concurrent with the work of the hazard teams, the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hosted a
project information server (http://disaster.ceos.org). The
server is intended to demonstrate timely access to satellite-
derived data and information products to support various
facets of disaster management, it lias separate pages for
selected disaster types, providing background and
bibliographic information, and links to disaster specific
Internet sites that provide data and products. Information
about the project and its progress is available through this
server. A 1998 Progress Report is available in hardcopy form
from the authors. An updated hardcopy Progress Report will
be published in late 1999.