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Current Affairs

Cloud computing for flood inundation mapping

Date: 29 September 2020 Tags: Climate Change


Using openly accessible satellite data and a cloud computing platform, an international team has now developed a powerful tool for a near real-time mapping of flood extent.



Maps showing where flooding may occur or flood inundation maps can help in better flood risk preparedness. The paper notes the new flood inundation maps showed an accuracy of over 94%. 



  • Space-based sensors known as synthetic aperture radar (SAR) have been used widely for monitoring and mapping of flood-water inundation.

  • SAR is capable of acquiring data in all-weather condition, making it useful for mapping and monitoring flood inundation areas.

  • These sensors operate on the constellation of two SAR satellites belonging to the Copernicus Programme launched by the European Space Agency.

  • The data from the satellites was utilised on a cloud-based platform known as Google Earth Engine (GEE) for the rapid processing of big data.

  • The GEE also has publicly made available numerous satellite image collections and has functions for image processing and analysis.

  • The team studied water inundation maps from 2015 and their analysis was clearly able to show the areas submerged underwater in 2018.

  • The monsoon season of Kerala has seen an increasing rainfall trend and this has played a major role. This also depicts that more floods are likely to happen in the near future.

  • Other studies have also pointed out that the flooding event would have not taken place if the capacity of the major six reservoirs would have been 34% more. 

  • Cloud computing platforms and satellite data are also being used by researchers for landslide prediction, drought forecasting, crop monitoring, and avalanche forecasting.