Radar satellites can better protect against bushfires and floods – sciencedaily

New research from Curtin University has revealed how radar satellites can improve the ability to detect, monitor, prepare for and resist natural disasters in Australia, including bushfires, floods and earthquakes.

The research used Synthetic Aperture Radar data obtained from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellite, among others, to assess case studies specific to Australia.

Principal investigator Dr Amy Parker, an ARC researcher at Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said the Sentinel-1 satellite mission provided the first comprehensive synthetic aperture radar data set (SAR) and the first opportunity to use this type of data to assess hazards in new locations, including Australia.

“What makes SAR so valuable is that it provides all-weather, night and day surveillance capability remotely from the Earth’s surface, unlike traditional Earth-observation optical imagery ( OT) which is at the mercy of clouds, fog, precipitation and smoke, ”Dr. Parker said.

“SAR data can be used to accurately map topography, track ground surface movements, characterize land use changes, and map infrastructure damage, which can dramatically improve the way we track and respond. natural disasters.

“But although SAR satellites are well documented as a hazard monitoring tool, the use of this data varies and in Australia the use of SAR data has been limited.”

The research applied the SAR data to nine case studies covering critical issues such as bushfires, floods and earthquakes to assess the power of SAR as a tool for disaster mitigation and prevention. .

“For example, we looked at the 2016 Wildman Coastal Plains flooding in the Northern Territory and found that the SAR added benefits in mapping flood patterns and floodplain dynamics.

Dr Parker said these benefits can also be applied to maintaining the safety of mine sites and a better understanding of seismic risks and activities.

“Globally, Australia is one of the largest users of Earth observation data derived from satellites, which contributes to monitoring and responding to national risks and to more than 100 government programs. and federal. Our research shows that SAR data can effectively complement this. Dr Parker said.

“Previously, SAR data was considered too expensive to use as a risk mitigation tool, but our results show that thanks to Sentinel-1, we now have consistent and economically viable sensor imagery of Australia.

“The adoption of SAR data for hazard applications around the world will continue to benefit from validated case studies like ours, the development of tools that support operational use and the continued provision of open source imagery.” access by large-scale satellite missions.

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Material provided by Curtin University. Original written by Lucien Wilkinson. Note: Content can be changed for style and length.

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