The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in partnership with leading scientific institutes, is planning to create a revolutionary and life-saving flood prediction technology that can save thousands of lives. Floods are among the most deadly and costly disasters worldwide and are only increasing in severity due to climate change. Dr. Shanna N. McClain, Disasters Program Manager for NASA’s Earth Science Applied Sciences Program said:
“This new technology covers the face of the globe, enabling us to observe flood risk and anticipate the likelihood of floods in ways never before possible. The technology we have developed will be transformative, enabling early action by communities around the globe—especially small island communities and developing states that lack the necessary early warning information to protect themselves and their loved ones during flood events.”
The PDC is a University of Hawaii applied science and research center that specializes in disaster risk reduction science and technology that supports organizations worldwide in creating a safer world.
Half of the world’s countries lack adequate hazard early warning systems, according to a recent study by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Chris Chiesa, Deputy Executive Director of the Pacific Disaster Center, is a key partner in the project says:
“Until now, comprehensive global flood early warnings have not been possible. Either due to limitations in hydrologic monitoring networks, forecast models, or expertise to operate and widely disseminate their results, especially in small and vulnerable countries. MoM will be a game changer,”
Pakistan Red Crescent Society provides aid to communities following catastrophic flooding in 2022 which caused more than 1,700 deaths and displaced more than 7.9 million people. Omar Abou-Samra, Director of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)’s Global Disaster Preparedness Center says:
“Effective early warning information is proven to save lives. Flood early warning has so far been expensive and requires hyper-local investment, knowledge, and maintenance. I am looking forward to helping PDC and NASA make this powerful tool available to all communities to complement the efforts of national disaster management organizations and meteorological agencies to help early warnings reach the last mile,”
The IFRC currently integrates all of PDC’s DisasterAWARE early warning and risk information into its Go Platform which provides its 192 national societies and more than 15 million volunteers with critical emergency needs information and the tools they need to provide an adequate response.
NASA’s Dr. McClain congratulated the entire Disasters flood team—a collective of cross-sectoral experts who dedicated the past three years to developing an algorithm to reduce the impact of global floods under the NASA ROSES A.37 project.
“Advancing Access to Global Flood Modeling and Alerting using the PDC DisasterAWARE® Platform and Remote Sensing Technologies”.
Development continued under the Global Initiative for Flood Forecasting and Alerting (GIFFT) project, which enhanced MoM by incorporating features such as triggers for synthetic aperture radar (SAR) analysis, and exposure analysis through ImageCat’s Global Economic Disruption Index (GEDI).
NASA partnered with PDC to integrate MoM prediction into their global multi-hazard alerting platform DisasterAWARE. When MoM detects a high likelihood of flooding in a region, DisasterAWARE sends a flood early warning notification to impacted communities, letting them quickly take the steps necessary to save lives and livelihoods.
Local authorities may use this prediction to activate emergency response plans, order evacuations, or deploy response teams and humanitarian relief. PDC was recently recognized in 2022 by the United Nations for its efforts to build resilience through a multi-hazard approach receiving the 2022 U.N. Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction.