Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Satellites reveal possible catastrophic flooding months in advance

Date:
July 7, 2014
Source:
University of California - Irvine
Summary:
Data from NASA satellites can greatly improve predictions of how likely a river basin is to overflow months before it does, according to new findings. The use of such data, which capture a much fuller picture of how water is accumulating, could result in earlier flood warnings, potentially saving lives and property.

Data from NASA satellites can greatly improve predictions of how likely a river basin is to overflow months before it does, according to new findings by UC Irvine. The use of such data, which capture a much fuller picture of how water is accumulating, could result in earlier flood warnings, potentially saving lives and property.

The research was published online in the journal Nature Geoscience.

A case study of the catastrophic 2011 Missouri River floods showed that factoring into hydrologic models the total water storage information from NASA's Gravity Recovery & Climate Experiment mission -- including groundwater accumulation below the surface -- could have increased regional flood warning lead times from two months to as long as five months.

A review of the 2011 Columbia River floods found that warnings could have been issued three months before they occurred. Comprehensive underground measurements are not currently part of predictive models, which typically take into account river flow rates and some snowfall amounts.

"GRACE data contain important hydrologic information that is not currently being utilized to estimate regional flood potential," said lead author J.T. Reager, who did the work as a UCI postdoctoral researcher and recently joined NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a research scientist. "This could significantly increase flood prediction lead times within large river basins."

Inland flooding causes an average of 133 deaths and $4 billion in property losses per year in the U.S., according to the National Weather Service. Earlier flood predictions could help water managers better plan for possible water diversion and evacuation strategies.

The two GRACE satellites provide a means to observe monthly variations in total water storage within large river basins based on measurements of tiny changes in Earth's gravitational field: When the amount of water stored in a region increases, the gravitational pull from that area increases proportionately -- which the satellites can detect.

"These data can show us when river basins have been filling with water over several months," said senior author Jay Famiglietti, a UCI Earth system scientist who's on leave to be JPL's senior water scientist. "We're not talking about actual flooding but about the saturation level of the ground and its predisposition to flooding. When it finally rains and the basin is full, there is nowhere else for the water to go."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Irvine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. T. Reager, B. F. Thomas, J. S. Famiglietti. River basin flood potential inferred using GRACE gravity observations at several months lead time. Nature Geoscience, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2203

Cite This Page:

University of California - Irvine. "Satellites reveal possible catastrophic flooding months in advance." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140707141718.htm>.
University of California - Irvine. (2014, July 7). Satellites reveal possible catastrophic flooding months in advance. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140707141718.htm
University of California - Irvine. "Satellites reveal possible catastrophic flooding months in advance." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140707141718.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

AFP (July 22, 2014) As part of the 14-ship convoy that will accompany the Costa Concordia from the port of Giglio to the port of Genoa, there will be a boat carrying experts to look out for dolphins and whales from crossing the path of the Concordia. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

AP (July 21, 2014) New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort for cigarette butts. The city is rolling out dozens of containers for smokers to use when they discard their butts. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins