Friday’s Food for Thought: Mapping Droughts and Floods

Lasting effects of drought and flooding around the world


According to a CNBC article, Texas set a record for rainfall in 2016 with extensive flooding throughout the state, while California is in its fifth year of a major drought.

According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California’s ongoing drought is leaving lasting effects on the Sierra Nevada conifer forests. A article describes how JPL created a map using airborne spectroscopic measurements from NASA’s Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) instrument aboard NASA’s ER-2 aircraft to help the U.S. Forest Service assess and respond to the impacts of increased tree mortality caused by drought.

Beyond California, the World Resources Institute has mapped water stress around the world and found major regions of every inhabited continent struggle with drought. Areas in red on the map are at high water risk, or scarcity, such as the west coasts of the U.S. and South America, the Middle East, northern regions of Africa, and much of Asia.

A team of scientists from the University of Zaragoza’s department of geography in Spain took a deeper look at the drought that’s been affecting the Mediterranean Basin for decades. The team reconstructed the region’s drought history using the precipitation index and the study of tree growth rings to reveal the drought dates back as far as 1694, reports Science Daily. The results from the study are published in the “International Journal of Biometeorology.”

Mapping is also used to better understand floods. After recent widespread flooding in Virginia and West Virginia, teams from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are documenting the extensive flooding to help federal emergency managers funnel relief to the hardest-hit areas in the two states, reports a Roanoke, Va., news station. USGS hydrologists are also mapping the areas to pinpoint how flood plains have changed over the years, with the data being used to predict future flooding events.

Photo Credit: World Resources Institute

Posted in: got geoint?   Tagged in: Civil, Disaster Relief

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