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Radar satellites can provide better protection from wildfires and floods – ScienceDaily

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New research led by Curtin University has revealed how radar satellites can improve the ability to detect, monitor, prepare for and withstand natural disasters in Australia, including wildfires, floods and earthquakes.

The research used synthetic aperture radar data obtained by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellite, among others, to evaluate case studies of Australia.

Lead researcher Dr Amy Parker, a research fellow at ARC from the Curtin School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said the Sentinel-1 satellite mission provided the world’s first complete synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data set and the first opportunity to use this type of data to assess risks at new locations , Including Australia.

“What makes SAR so valuable is that it provides all-weather, night and day capability to remotely observe the Earth’s surface, unlike conventional Earth Observation (EO) images that are at the mercy of clouds, fog, rain and smoke,” said Dr. Parker.

“SAR data can be used to accurately map topography, track movements of the Earth’s surface, characterize land use change, and map damage to infrastructure, all of which can greatly improve how we track and respond to natural disasters.

“But although search and rescue satellites are well documented as a tool for monitoring hazards, the uptake of such data varies, and in Australia the use of search and rescue data has been limited.”

The research applied SAR data to nine case studies covering critical issues such as forest fires, floods and earthquakes to assess the strength of the SAR as a tool for disaster mitigation and prevention.

“For example, we looked at the 2016 Wildman Coastal Plains floods in the Northern Territory and found that SAR has added benefits in mapping flood patterns and floodplain dynamics.”

Dr Parker said these benefits could also be applied to maintaining the integrity of the mine site and better understanding the risks of earthquakes and activity.

“Globally, Australia is one of the largest users of satellite-derived Earth observation data, which contributes to monitoring and responding to national risks and over 100 state and federal government programs. Our research shows that SAR data can complement this effectively. ” Dr. Parker said.

“SAR data was previously considered too costly to use as a risk mitigation tool, but our findings show that with Sentinel-1, we now have economically integrated and coherent sensor imaging for Australia.

“Understanding SAR data for risk applications globally will continue to benefit from validated case studies such as ours, develop tools that support operational use, and continue to provide open access imagery through large scale satellite missions.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by Curtin University. The original was written by Lucian Wilkinson. Note: The content can be modified according to the style and length.

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