April 27, 2006

Spot monitors flooding in the East

Since the start of April, the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters has been activated 4 times to monitor flooding in Central Europe1, Austria2, Hungary3 and Romania4. On each occasion, the Spot satellites were tasked to supply imagery.
27 April 2006

Terrible flooding in the East

In recent weeks, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Germany have been hard hit by floods—in some areas the worst in a century.

Torrential rain and melting snow are the cause of these devastating floods: by mid-April, 10 people had lost their lives and tens of thousands had to be evacuated in and around Prague, Budapest, Dresden and Belgrade, and entire villages had been flooded.
For example, in Romania incessant rain wrought havoc in 400 different areas. In Germany and the Czech Republic, the Elbe rose to nearly 3 times its normal level, reaching 8 m in places. This was confirmed by satellite imagery acquired after activation of the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters.

Floods and satellites

Founded by Esa, CNES and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the international charter has been operating since November 2000 to offer a unified system to acquire and deliver satellite data.
Its objective is to use satellite data to assist populations and dispatch relief teams to disaster-hit areas.
CNES’s Spot satellites supplied vital imagery on the flood zones in the Czech Republic and Germany.
Images acquired on 8 April show flooding in the streets of Prague.
Other multispectral images acquired on the same date highlight the extent of the floods at the confluence of the Elbe and the Vltava.
The ability to combine complementary data from a range of radar and optical sensors is a key charter asset. The charter has been activated 98 times since its inception, 7 times since the start of the year.

1 Activated 1 April by the German Joint Information and Situation Centre (GMLZ) and the European Commission’s Civil Protection Unit
2 Activated 7 April by the Regional Alarm Centre Austria
3 Activated 14 April by the European Commission’s Civil Protection Unit 4 Activated 19 April by the Romanian Space Agency

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