Flood

This Copernicus Sentinel-1 image combines two acquisitions over the same area of eastern Iraq, one from 14 November 2018 before heavy rains fell and one from 26 November 2018 after the storms. The image reveals the extent of flash flooding in red, near the town of Kut. Image: modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2018), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

Definition

Flood is usually used as a general term to describe the overflow of water from a stream channel into normally dry land in the floodplain (riverine flooding), higher-than–normal levels along the coast and in lakes or reservoirs (coastal flooding) as well as ponding of water at or near the point where the rain fell (flash floods) (IRDR Glossary).

Facts and figures

Floods are the natural hazard with the highest frequency and the widest geographical distribution worldwide. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)  flooding is one of the most common, widespread and destructive natural perils, affecting approximately 250 million people worldwide and causing more than $40 billion in damage and losses on an annual basis (OECD).

Flooding occurs most commonly from heavy rainfall when natural watercourses lack the capacity to convey excess water. It can also result from other phenomena, particularly in coastal areas, by a storm surge associated with a tropical cyclone, a tsunami or a high tide. Dam failure, triggered by an earthquake, for instance, will lead to flooding of the downstream area, even in dry weather conditions.

Various climatic and non-climatic processes can result in different types of floods: riverine floods, flash floods, urban floods, glacial lake outburst floods and coastal floods.

Flood magnitude depends on precipitation intensity, volume, timing and phase, from the antecedent conditions of rivers and the drainage basins (frozen or not or saturated soil moisture or unsaturated) and status. Climatological parameters that are likely to be affected by climate change are precipitation, windstorms, storm surges and sea-level rise (UNDRR).

When floodwaters recede, affected areas are often blanketed in silt and mud. The water and landscape can be contaminated with hazardous materials such as sharp debris, pesticides, fuel, and untreated sewage. Potentially dangerous mold blooms can quickly overwhelm water-soaked structures. Residents of flooded areas can be left without power and clean drinking water, leading to outbreaks of deadly waterborne diseases like typhoid, hepatitis A, and cholera (UNDRR).

Related content on the Knowledge Portal

Data Source

Publishing institution: Nigeria National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA)
This interactive portal provides near real time data on potential floods that will potentially affect countries in West Africa. The data has a maximum of 10 day forecast and includes flood categories 2-year, 5-year, and 30-year return periods.

GP-STAR factsheet

Schematic Workflow for the derivation of an exemplary Sendai indicator using crisis information generated from satellite remote sensing (Source: own figure; Copernicus Emergency Management Service (©European Union), EMSN024, EMSN056)
Publishing institution: German Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance

To meet the global challenges, the United Nations adopted several framework agreements, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction at the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030). The framework builds the international reference point for disaster preparedness and focuses on reducing existing and future disaster risks as well as enhancing disaster resilience. In the Sendai framework, seven global targets have been agreed to measure global progress in implementing the framework through quantifiable indicators and to present, compare and evaluate the status and progress uniformly worldwide. The recording of the status and degree of target achievement using the agreed indicators requires the use of various data sources, which must be consistent and comparable in time and space in order to ensure global monitoring.

News

Image of South Africa acquired on 19 June 2010 by ESA's Envisat satellite. Image: ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, through its UN-SPIDER programme, has activated the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters" on behalf of the National Disaster Management Centre (NDC) of South Africa for the recent floods and mudslides in the country. The German Aerospace Centre (DLR) is acting as project manager for this activation.

Heavy rainfall has been affecting eastern South Africa over the past few days, causing floods and landslides in Durban and the surrounding KwaZulu-Natal province. According to media reports, around 70 people have been killed and some 1,000 displaced. Buildings were severely damaged as flood waters washed through areas at high speed, closing two universities, schools and wider business... read more

Publishing date: 26/04/2019

As part of the technical advisory support it provides to countries worldwide in making use of space-based information for disaster management, UN-SPIDER carries out an Institutional Strengthening Mission to Ecuador from 8 to 12 April 2019 upon the request of the Government of Ecuador. This activity is jointly organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), through its United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) and the National Risk and Emergency Management Service of Ecuador. The Military Geographic Institute of Ecuador, the Agustín Codazzi Geographic Institute of Colombia (IGAC) and the Federal University of Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and the Ecuadorian Space Institute support the mission.

During the five-day mission, UN-SPIDER runs a training programme on the "Analysis of satellite images... read more

Publishing date: 08/04/2019

As part of it advisory support activities, UN-SPIDER is carrying out out a Technical Advisory Mission (TAM) to Peru from 1 to 5 April to evaluate the current and potential use of space-based information in all aspects of disaster management. Based on exchanges with a wide range of stakeholders, UN-SPIDER will provide recommendations as to how to strengthen the use of space-based information in disaster risk management and emergency response in the country.

The team of experts led by UN-SPIDER is conducting multiple activities and institutional visits in Lima. The team is comprised of eight experts from UN-SPIDER; the German Aerospace Centre (DLR); the Argentinian National Space Activities Commission (CONAE); the Mexican Space Agency (AEM); the Agustin Codazzi Geographic Institute of Colombia (IGAC); the Santa... read more

Publishing date: 01/04/2019
Parts of Iran (Islamic Republic of) and the region captured by the MODIS instrument on board the Terra satellite on 29 March 2019. Image: NASA Worldview application.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), as part of the support it provides to Member States through its UN-SPIDER programme, has requested the activation of the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters" for monitoring the impact of the floods in the Islamic Republic of Iran caused by heavy rainfall in the southwestern provinces of Golestan and Mazandaran on 31 March. The Charter was activated on behalf of UN-SPIDER Regional Support Office the Iranian Space Agency (ISA), which is acting as project manager for the activation.

A state of emergency has been declared by officials with at least 45 people killed and many more injured as flash flood water and mud damaged thousands of buildings and  more rainfall is expected in the coming days. Up to 56 villages near the Dez and Karkheh rivers may need to be evacuated as water needs to be released from two dams.Officials reported that in the next five days around three billion cubic... read more

Publishing date: 31/03/2019
Regional Support Offices mentioned:

Event

Course aimed to discover how continental water and ice masses are measured and monitored through remote sensing. A first-hand insights how water and mass transport can be traced and how this relates to the complex processes in the Earth‘s system.

During the course, participants will assess and evaluate statements made in relation to climate change. This will prepare them to make evidence-based decisions for a sustainable future.

Main learn objectives:

  • How to measure the hydrosphere and the cryosphere

  • How to judge the quality and reliability of earth observations

  • How to compare measurement tools

  • How to assess the impact of global change on our environment

 

From 22 to 26 July 2019, the training course on Integrated Flood Risk Management (IRFM) will introduce practitioners to the key concepts of IRFM. The course is organized by and held at the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC).

Flood risk management has traditionally been focused on evacuating floodwater as soon as possible or on storing it temporarily through structural measures such as dams or levees. However, traditional flood mitigation is not always desirable or feasible. As a result, Integrated Flood Risk Management (IFRM) is gaining traction among flood risk and water management professionals. IFRM is a more integrated and comprehensive approach taking a catchment or basin perspective that includes nature-based solutions. It also rests on the principle that water management and land-use planning should combine both structural and non-structural measures to manage water and achieve flood mitigation.

The training will cover the following... read more

In the intermediate webinar Remote Sensing for Disasters, participants learn the usage of NASA products to monitor three kinds of disasters. The webinar takes place in three sessions on each Tuesday from 16 until 30 April 2019, starting 10 to 12 am and 2 to 4 pm. It is taught in English and Spanish and is free of charge.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this training, attendees will be able to:

  • Identify NASA data products to characterize and monitor the disasters, Tropical Storms, Flooding, Landslides and Earthquakes, and support decision-making

  • Understand the different data products available and their shortcomings

  • Access and interpret data covered in the different sessions

Course Format

  • Three, two-hour sessions that include a 30 min Q&A period

  • Session A will be... read more

Advisory Support

As part of the technical advisory support it provides to countries worldwide, UN-SPIDER carried out an Institutional Strengthening Mission to Republic of Ecuador from 8-12 April 2019 upon the request of the government. This activity was jointly organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), through its United Nations Platform for space-based information for disaster management and emergency response (UN-SPIDER) and the National Risk and Emergency Management Service of Ecuador. The Military Geographic Institute of Ecuador, the Agustín Codazzi Geographic Institute of Colombia (IGAC) and the Federal University of Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil supported the mission.

Mission dates: 08/04/2019 to 12/04/2019

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