I Spy A Flood?

Project Team: East Africa Health and Air Quality Team
Team Location: International Research Institute for Climate and Society, Palisades, New York

Authors:
Alex Sweeney
Helen Cen

Three flood detection products (DFO, NRT-GFM, and CUNY SWAMPS) combined with a six-day IFRC heavy rainfall forecast during a March 2013 flood event in Kenya. Image Credit: East Africa Health and Air Quality Team.

Three flood detection products (DFO, NRT-GFM, and CUNY SWAMPS) combined with a six-day IFRC heavy rainfall forecast during a March 2013 flood event in Kenya. Image Credit: East Africa Health and Air Quality Team.

Mentors/Advisors:
Dr. Pietro Ceccato (Lead Environmental Monitoring Program, International Research Institute for Climate and Society, The Earth Institute, Columbia University)

Past/Other Contributors:
Jerrod Lessel (DEVELOP)
Andrew Kruczkiewicz (DEVELOP)

Abstract:
Annual flooding events in East Africa affect both the health and economic aspects of the population. It has been established that vector borne diseases are associated with environmental and climatic factors. Research by previous terms has identified that flooding events are negatively associated with the vector-borne disease Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL). Epidemics of VL in East Africa have caused an estimated 100,000 deaths, and have renewed the impetus for defining the ecological boundaries of the disease. Validating remotely sensed products that detect flooding will enable disaster responders to adequately prepare and respond to areas with a greater likelihood of outbreaks of vector-borne diseases. A comparative analysis was conducted using Dartmouth Flood Observatory (DFO) flood maps, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center MODIS Near Real-Time Global Flood Mapping Project (NRT-GFM), and City University of New York’s (CUNY) Surface Water Microwave Product Series (SWAMPS) inundation fraction anomaly product to verify precision between the three products in East Africa and Thailand. In order to explore the potential for forecasting these flood events, this term compared these three products (DFO, NRT-GFM, SWAMPS) to the heavy rainfall forecasts developed by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Corroborating the IFRC product to flooding events detected by the three flood products would enhance a region’s ability to quickly identify where and when to allocate emergency flood preparedness/relief efforts and also could act as a useful predictor for vector-borne disease outbreaks. Additionally, while validating flood detection products, it was discovered that a unified definition of flooding is not present within the literature, preventing consistency across flood detection products. Therefore this research attempted to develop a baseline definition of a flood event.

 

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