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Updated: 1 year 4 months ago

Hurricane Matthew Exacts Heavy Toll on Haiti

Fri, 10/28/2016 - 08:21

Hurricane Matthew Exacts Heavy Toll on Haiti
Sensor: L8 OLI
Acquisition Date: September 26, 2016, October 12, 2016
Path/Row: 9/47
Lat/Long: 18.300/-73.700

A week after Hurricane Matthew slammed through southwestern Haiti on October 4, 2016, Landsat 8's Operational Land Imager sensor provided dramatic documentation of the scope of destruction in the Caribbean country.

In Haiti, land is often managed in small patches. A household may have subsistence crops in a number of locations, often on steep slopes. Data acquired on September 26 shows the landscape green with vegetation. On October 12, eight days after the storm, the hillsides are denuded after the Category 4 storm washed away crops and fallows.

Also evident in the post-storm image is a surge of sediment in the coastal waters at the mouth of the Ravine du Sud River near the seaport town of Les Cayes after Matthew went through. Geologists say the sediment likely comes from slopes that lacked protective tree cover.

The slow-moving storm dropped upwards of 30 inches of rain across parts of the impoverished nation. Hundreds of thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed. Meanwhile, public health authorities fear that the rush of rain will worsen a cholera epidemic that was already present.

Landsat, ASTER Work Together on Russian Wildfires

Sun, 07/17/2016 - 14:22

Landsat, ASTER Work Together on Russian Wildfires
Sensor: ASTER, L8 OLI
Acquisition Date: June 29, 2016, June 30, 2016
Path/Row: 138/20
Lat/Long: 56.850/100.600

Remotely sensed imagery of wildfires burning in the Siberia region of Russia shows the complementary possibilities of Landsat 8 and NASA's ASTER sensor aboard its Terra satellite.

Lightning triggered dozens of forest fires in remote Siberia in late June 2016, burning as much as 7,400 acres, according to Russia's TASS news agency. Imagery acquired from Terra ASTER on June 29 shows smoke billowing from a small and a large fire, as well as some older burn scars. A day later, when Landsat 8 passed overhead, there was almost no smoke coming from the smaller fire, and a more pronounced scar. Vegetation appears red in the false-color imagery because near infrared (NIR) spectral bands used by both sensors are sensitive to vegetation greenness and were placed in the red position of Red-Green-Blue (RGB) composite images. Burn scars appear a dark brown to black with this band combination.

Though the Terra satellite images the entire Earth every 1 to 2 days, its ASTER instrument with its three separate telescopes only collects data when it is remotely programmed to do so over requested areas of land. That makes it valuable for monitoring disasters. Because Terra's orbit is similar to that of Landsats 7 and 8—though timed differently—they prove quite complementary when it comes to identifying the impacts of wildfire, flooding, and other events.

Though there is little population in the wildfire area, Russia's Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities asked the International Charter “Space and Major Disasters,” of which USGS and EROS are members, for assistance. That request was granted July 2, giving Russia rapid access to satellite data for assessing the extent of damage and helping with disaster response.