NASA Aids Response to Widespread Flooding in Japan

Map showing areas which are likely damaged in Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan, as of July 6 due to heavy rains. Credits: Earth Observatory of Singapore/NASA-JPL/Caltech/ARIA-SG team

A team working with NASA’s Earth Science Disasters Program has used satellite data to identify hard-hit areas in southern Japan, where days of pounding rain triggered massive floods and mudslides in early July. The map (above, left) shows areas of likely damaged in Kumamoto Prefecture, where rivers burst their banks and swept away homes, bridges, cars, and trees. Color pixels of 30 meters, from yellow to red, indicate increasing ground surface change before and after the event.

The Disasters Program regularly harnesses NASA’s expertise in Earth and space science to help communities around the world plan for and recover from severe disasters. The program is currently working with stakeholders from Sentinel Asia and the Asian Disaster Reduction Center through the International Disasters Charter to quantify flood depth, flood extent, and to identify areas damaged by the flooding.

The Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California, collaborated with the Earth Observatory of Singapore on the map using synthetic aperture radar data acquired by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s ALOS-2 satellites.