Flooding in Pakistan

Satellite image of floods in the Sindh province of Pakistan, 30 Aug 2022
MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

The satellite imagery of the flooding in Pakistan is insufficient to grasp how widespread the devastation is, unless you zoom out enough (which you can do at the MODIS page). The imagery focuses on the flood plain of the Indus River: it covers most of Sindh province and a good chunk of Baluchistan. See The Washington Post’s maps for perspective. The Earth Observatory and MODIS pages, as well as the CNN article, have before/after image sliders: Earth Observatory compares the situation to three weeks ago, the other two to last year.

Update, 1 Sept:


The ESA has released the above image based on Copernicus Sentinel-1 data. More than a third of Pakistan is now under water.

Update, 3 Sept: The Guardian has more before/after imagery.

Remotely Operated Vessel Maps Tonga Caldera

Aerial view of the Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai (HT-HH) volcano, showing new multibeam depth data overlaid on a satellite image of the islands (deep depths in blue, shallow depths in red).
SEA-KIT/NIWA-Nippon Foundation TESMaP survey team

As part of the Tonga Eruption Seabed Mapping Project, a robotic vessel has conducted a bathymetric survey of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai volcano’s underwater caldera. Said volcano, you will recall, erupted spectacularly last January. The 12-metre vessel, USV Maxlimer, was controlled remotely from 16,000 km away, and carried sensors to measure the state of the seabed, temperature, salinity, turbidity, dissolved oxygen and chemical plumes. More at the press release. BBC News coverage.

Previously: The Rise and Fall of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai; Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai, Before and After; How Satellites Revealed the Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha‘apai Eruption.

Updates to Maps of Historical Earthquakes, Tsunami and Volcanic Eruptions

Significant Earthquakes 2150 B.C. to A.D. 2022 (NOAA/NCEI)

Every two years or so, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information updates poster maps based on its Global Historical Tsunami, Significant Earthquake and Significant Volcanic Eruption databases; the 2022 editions are now available. The posters, made in collaboration with the International Tsunami Information Center, are distributed to emergency response personnel; they provide a historical overview of where earthquakes or eruptions took place, or tsunami originated, going back literally millenia. The maps can be downloaded in PDF format: Significant Earthquakes 2150 B.C. to A.D. 2022, Tsunami Sources 1610 B.C. to A.D. 2022, and Significant Volcanic Eruptions 4360 B.C. to A.D. 2022.

The Rise and Fall of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai

A storymap from Esri’s Robert Waterman, based on Maxar satellite imagery, shows the rise and fall of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha‘apai from being two separate islands before a 2015 eruption combined them, through its time as an apparently stable but awkwardly compound-named single island until it got blown apart last month.

Previously: Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai, Before and After.

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai, Before and After

Two maps showing Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai before and after the volcanic eruption of January 2022
NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens; data courtesy of Dan Slayback/NASA/GSFC.

NASA Earth Observatory has released digital elevation maps of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai both before and after the volcanic eruption earlier this month.

The digital elevation maps above and below show the dramatic changes at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai, the uppermost part of a large underwater volcano. It rises 1.8 kilometers (1.1 miles) from the seafloor, stretches 20 kilometers (12 miles) across, and is topped by a submarine caldera 5 kilometers in diameter. The island is part of the rim of the Hunga Caldera and was the only part of the edifice that stood above water.

Now all of the new land is gone, along with large chunks of the two older islands.

Historical Landslides in Canada

Map: Historical landslides that have resulted in fatalities in Canada (1771-2019)
Excerpt from Andrée Blais-Stevens, “Historical landslides that have resulted in fatalities in Canada (1771-2019),” Geological Survey of Canada, 2020.

The third edition of a map showing landslides that have caused fatalities in Canada since 1771, created over six years by Geological Survey of Canada research scientist Andrée Blais-Stevens, was recently released. The Ottawa Citizen has the story; the map in question can be downloaded in PDF format here (48.7 MB).

More on the Western U.S. Wildfires

NASA Earth Observatory

NASA Earth Observatory has had several stories on the western U.S. wildfires, gathered here. This story summarizes the situation; satellite images of the smoke generated by the fires can be seen here, here and here.

Marena Brinkhurst of Mapbox has a comprehensive list of open data sources relating to the wildfires, smoke, and air quality.

Mark Altaweel at GIS Lounge looks at how GIS is being used to map wildfires, smoke and air pollution.

Previously: California Wildfires, 2020 Edition.

California Wildfires, 2020 Edition


Wildfire status tracking. The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services posts a daily map showing the status of active wildfires in the state. It’s basically a one-page PDF you can print and hand out: decidedly old school and not remotely interactive. The New York Times has a series of maps tracking the various wildfire complexes. See also the Los Angeles Times interactive wildfires map, the address of which will probably work next year too. [Maps Mania/Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs]

Forecasting. NOAA’s High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) atmospheric model includes an experimental smoke forecast. It and other smoke and fire models are available as hourly static images (see above) or via this interactive map. [Maps Mania/UWCIMSS]

Google is adding wildfire boundaries to Search and Maps: it will provide warnings to nearby users and have an impact on driving directions. [Engadget/TechCrunch/The Verge]

NASA Maps the Damage from the Beirut Explosion

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Earth Observatory of Singapore/ESA

NASA has released a map of the likely extent of damage from Tuesday’s explosion in Beirut.

Synthetic aperture radar data from space shows ground surface changes from before and after a major event like an earthquake. In this case, it is being used to show the devastating result of an explosion.

On the map, dark red pixels—like those present at and around the Port of Beirut—represent the most severe damage. Areas in orange are moderately damaged and areas in yellow are likely to have sustained somewhat less damage. Each colored pixel represents an area of 30 meters (33 yards).

The map is based on data from the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel program, and was analyzed by NASA’s Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis team and the Earth Observatory of Singapore.

Mapping Disasters in America

The Washington Post maps disasters in the United States, with a page that shows maps of flood warnings, tornadoes and hurricanes, extreme heat and cold (see above), wildfires, lightning, and earthquakes and volcanoes. In the wake of a natural disaster there’s usually someone suggesting that the victims are at fault for living in a disaster zone. The WaPost’s maps have an answer to that: “It turns out there is nowhere in the United States that is particularly insulated from everything.”

Hurricane Michael’s Impact

It’s after the fact, at least in terms of initial landfall (if not aftermath), but maps I’ve seen of Hurricane Michael include the USGS’s Hurricane Michael page, which includes an event support map and a map of coastal change impacts; and imagery from the Suomi NPP satellite that shows the path of Hurricane Michael through the power outages left in the storm’s wake.