Early detection of droughts is important for managing emerging crop losses to prevent or mitigate possible related famines, and for dealing with increased fire risk. Satellite imagery helps to monitor precipitation, soil moisture, and vegetation health to support drought early warning systems. It is used to feed monthly drought bulletins and to issue warnings. Near-real-time data related to drought are available free of charge via several regional and global platforms.
UN-SPIDER’s Regional Support Office in Algeria, the Algerian Space Agency, has recently published the results of bi-phase satellite observations on the towns of El Tarf and El Kala and their surroundings. The goal was to monitor urban sprawl and land use changes that might impact on the environment.
In early May 2014, the United States National Drought Center, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln developed a map, which shows the extended area affected by high temperatures and subsequent droughts in the United States.
A team of geographers at University of California have developed a new approach to measure river flows from outer space. This approach relies exclusively on the measurements of a river's width over time, which can be obtained from freely available satellite imagery. "Our new method doesn't require access to the country or getting in the river to safely take measurements in the field," said Colin Gleason, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in geography in UCLA.
The Information and Communications Technology Office of the Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST), together with the technology provider IBM launched the Intelligent Operations Centre (IOC) near Quezon City. The new facility is equipped with technology that will allow the Government to monitor and forecast weather, and thus be better prepared for disasters.
Since February, many fires have broken out on the Sumatra peninsula in Indonesia, as UN-SPIDER reported; many of them were deliberately set in order to clean the land. Although this is illegal, it is still a common practice in the region. NASA’s satellites Terra and Aqua monitor these fires from Space.