Disasters Program Highlights week of 5/6/19

Landsat 8 Monitors Flooding on the Mississippi River

This image from the Landsat 8 OLI acquired on May 7, 2019, shows recent flooding on the MIssissippi River. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

This image from the Landsat 8 OLI acquired on May 7, 2019, shows recent flooding on the MIssissippi River. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

On May 9, 2019, the U.S. Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service reported that 313 river gauges across the United States were above flood stage. All but five of those gauges were in the heartland of the United States, mostly within the Mississippi River watershed. Thirty-two U.S. river gauges were above major flood stage, and 18 of them were within 200 miles of St. Louis, Missouri. Rock Island, Illinois, set a new local high-water record on May 2 at 22.70 feet. The Mississippi River crested at 41.33 feet at St. Louis on May 6—not a record, but a major flood nonetheless.

The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 caught a rare opening in the spring cloud cover to observe the flooding along the Mississippi River near St. Louis. This false-color image was acquired on May 7, 2019 and is composed from a combination of infrared and visible light (OLI bands 6-5-4) in order to better distinguish water that is out of the river banks and on the floodplains. Data such as these are used to track the extent of flooding to track damage and aid response and recovery efforts.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Used to Detect Wildfires Across the UK in 2019

Map showing wildfire detection in the UK from January 1st - April 30th, 2019 using the Suomi NPP Active Fire Data product. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

Map showing wildfires detected in the UK from January 1st - April 30th, 2019 using the Suomi NPP Active Fire Data product. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

It is not even summertime, but already the United Kingdom has seen a significant number of wildfires. The map above shows cumulative fire detections across the United Kingdom from January 1 through April 30, 2019. The data come from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite.

Each red dot depicts one fire detection from the VIIRS 375-meter active fire data product. A “fire detection” is a pixel in which the sensor and an algorithm indicated there was active fire on any given day. Many fire detections can be generated by a single burning fire. This product is used by researchers to identify the location of wildfires to aid response and recovery efforts for the affected areas.