The aim of the FC2015 Global Flood Observatory (GFO) project was to provide automated, near real time flood maps with global coverage, from freely available ESA and NASA satellite data. The observatory is not an ‘on-demand’ emergency responder, but a systematic and automated tool for identifying and mapping flooded areas globally. The system as developed in 2011 and 2012 is focused on delivering water extent (flood) maps in near real-time on the basis of ESA Envisat ASAR radar satellite data. The first version of the system was developed in 2011 and further advancements have been made in 2012 to provide near real time flooding information for the whole world on the basis of a combination of existing satellite data. In 2012, the objectives of the project were to complete and improve the technical implementation of the flood extent mapping algorithms, to test the implementation on another set of satellite data, to continue validation, to disseminate results and strengthen international collaboration. Finally, to potentially extend the use of the project results, some experimental applications were conducted and evaluated.

  1. The project activities were interrupted by the unexpected loss of the Envisat satellite in April 2012. After a month of trying to restore communications, ESA announced the official end to the Envisat mission in May, 2012. At this point, the project shifted the focus from optimizing the near-real time delivery of satellite based flood maps, to:
    Obtaining and starting to process & analyse the full Envisat mission archive to fully process this data to develop a historical flood archive, and
  2. Strengthening the international collaboration with NASA, to develop a joint flood mapping product.

    The consequence is that with the failure of the Envisat mission, GFO no longer had relevant real-time information to provide. Additional work has been undertaken to analyze what should be done when a new generation of satellites is launched. This resulted in a list of demands. Current software has to be adopted to the larger data volume provided by new satellites.

Value Chain of the Global Flood Observatory

Value Chain of the Global Flood Observatory

Participants: Deltares, HKV, Fugro, IBM
Stakeholders: Dartmouth Flood Observatory USA, UN, ESA, MIC (EU) en CSIRO Land and Water (Australia)


Mission Flood Control 2015

“A really substantial improvement in operational flood protection worldwide.”