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Floods in Bangladesh in 2019. Image: UN Women Asia and the Pacific.

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is leveraging space-based information to support government and humanitarian agencies in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region with timely information for flood early warning and inundation mapping. The efforts, which consist of developing a streamflow prediction system for flood early warning and of providing near real-time flood maps for disaster response, come as the monsoon floods in the region are worsening and compunding the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based at ICIMOD, the streamflow prediction system to support flood early warning is being developed through the SERVIR-HKH initiative, which benefits from technical assistance from NASA and the Bringham Young University. The system provides 15-day streamflow... read more

Publishing Date: 19/08/2020
Report cover.

At the end of 2019, countries in the Horn of Africa began to suffer the impacts of locust swarms. Later, the locust migrated to regions in Southwest Asia. Unfortunately, the impacts on farmers are devastating. Furthermore, the combined impact of these locust plague and COVID-19 is having a toll of the livelihoods of many farmers in these regions. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has indicated that 42 million people are facing severe acute food insecurity because of this plague.

Since the end of 2019, the Aerospace Information Research Institute (ARI) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has been tracking the temporal and geospatial dynamics of the locust plague in the Horn of Africa, Eastern Africa, the Middle East and Southwest Asia. To track this plague, experts from the Vegetation Remote Sensing & Pest and Disease Application Research Team of ARI developed the Vegetation Pests and Diseases Monitoring and Forecasting System. This... read more

Publishing Date: 13/08/2020

The Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific (CSSTEAP), which is affiliated to the United Nations, has announced its 2020/2021 postgraduate courses in Remote Sensing and GIS, Satellite Meteorology and Global Climate, and Space and Atmospheric Science.

The Remote Sensing and GIS course will be held from 1 July 2020 to 31 March 2021 at the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS), which is a unit of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), in Dehadrun, India. The deadline for applications for the programme is 28 February 2020.

The course is directed towards professionals and specialists working in universities and other educational institutes, who are involved in research in natural resources and environmental management.... read more

Publishing Date: 16/01/2020
Image: UNOOSA.

In order for South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Member States to be able to incorporate the routine use of space technology-based solutions, there is a need to increase awareness, build national capacity and develop solutions that are customized to their needs. The regional workshop and capacity-building programme on the "Role of Earth Observation in Multi-Hazard Disaster Risk Assessment and Monitoring Targets of the Sendai Framework" is the second regional event in South Asia under the umbrella of the SAARC Disaster Management Center and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), through its UN-SPIDER programme. The event took place in collaboration with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Sri Lanka, the Space Applications Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia Pacific (CSSTEAP). It was built on the outcome of the first regional workshop and... read more

Publishing Date: 12/12/2019
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Training participants flying an UAV. Image: UNOOSA.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction recognises the importance of ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR). In the last two decades, Asia has experienced numerous disasters caused by geologic and hydro-meteorological hazards impacting human settlements, both rural and urban. Gradual recognition of Eco-DRR as an efficient risk reduction tool is bringing the development focus on blue-green infrastructure (BGI) for settlements.

In this context, UN-SPIDER and the Indian Institute of Technology at Roorkee organized the India International Training Course on Space-based Information for Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction. The course took place from 25 to 29 November at the Centre of Excellence in Disaster Mitigation and Management (CoEDMM), Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, India, which focusses on the use of satellite remote sensing techniques in Eco-DRR. Thirty-six young research scholars, scientists and professionals engaged in developing... read more

Publishing Date: 28/11/2019
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Flood inundation map developed using Sentinel-1 satellite data, as part of the rapid mapping response under the SERVIR-HKH Initiative at ICIMOD. Map: Kabir Uddin/ICIMOD.

In July 2019, Bangladesh, India and Nepal experienced floods and landslides during the South Asian monsoon season. On the night of the 17 July, the Jamuna river in Bangladesh broke through the embankment, inundating over 40 villages and displacing more than 200,000 people. Experts of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), a UN-SPIDER Regional Support Office, prepared flood inundation maps after the floods struck Bangladesh. By making use of free satellite data from the Sentinel-1 satellite of the Copernicus programme, ICIMOD experts were able to create maps that give a synoptic overview of the extent of inundation caused by the floods.

Flood inundation maps aid disaster management agencies in prioritizing relief and rescue missions in flood affected areas. These endeavors illustrate the usefulness of satellite data in emergency response: Maps play a crucial role in planning effective and efficient emergency response... read more

Publishing Date: 25/09/2019
Tropical Cyclone Fani reaches the eastern coast of India on 2 May 2019.

Building upon a history of successful Earth observation satellite launches, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) sent its RISAT-2B radar imaging satellite into orbit on 22 May 2019. Launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India, the satellite has the capacity to benefit the disaster management, agriculture, and forestry sectors by capturing detailed images of the Earth’s surface, with a resolution of about 1 metre.

With its X-band synthetic aperture radar, RISAT-2B can view the Earth’s surface during day and night, including under cloudy conditions. ISRO Chairman Dr. K. Sivan, as quoted in an... read more

Publishing Date: 22/05/2019
The CCSTEAP organizes several courses and programmes in the upcoming academic year. Image: CSSTEAP.

The Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific (CSSTEAP), which is affiliated to the United Nations, will run its 24th postgraduate programme in Remote Sensing & Geographic System (RS & GIS) starting this July. The two-year programme open for 20 participants will be held at the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS), which is a unit of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), in Dehadrun. The deadline for applications for the programme is 28 February 2019.

The course is directed towards professionals and specialists working in universities and other educational institutes, who are involved in natural resources and environmental management. After developing and... read more

Publishing Date: 28/01/2019
UN-SPIDER lecture during the SAARC regional workshop and training.

The United Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), through its UN-SPIDER progroamme, and the Disaster Management Centre of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC DMC) conducted a joint regional workshop and training on the “Utilization of Space-based and Geospatial Information for Achieving the Targets of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction” from 4 to 8 December in Ahmedabad, India. The one-day workshop and four-day training enhanced cooperation and sharing of best practices amongst disaster management agencies and experts in the South Asia region.

The events brought together about 30 officials from right SAARC member countries representing key institutions involved in disaster risk reduction and emergency response. The participants became aware of advances in Earth observation and geospatial technologies for disaster risk reduction and emergency response, especially for implementing Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. They also... read more

Publishing Date: 17/12/2018
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PSLV C43 vehicle launch India fist HysIS Image: ISRO

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched the first Indian Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite (HySIS) from Sriharikota on 29 November. The satellite is expected to be used for Earth observation in applications related to agriculture, forestry, geology, assessment of coastal zones, and environmental studies. It was one out of 30 commercial satellites from eight different countries launched that day by the Indian PSLV C43 vehicle.

ISRO chairman K Sivas, in a statement released by the Times of India, said, “HysIS has a state of the art technology which will be used for distinct identification of objects, material or processes on the Earth [...] The satellite will start sending images 5 days after the launch”.

The HySIS technology consists of a combination of digital imaging and spectroscopy. The image obtained has higher contrast as it recognizes light intensity as a function of wavelength. In comparison with other technologies used for Earth observation (... read more

Publishing Date: 03/12/2018
UNISPACE NANO SATELLITE ASSEMBLY & TRAINING BY ISRO, Image Credits: ISRO

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched a new programme to offer educational training in space technology to engineering and science graduates. The application period for the first round of the UNispace Nanosatellite Assembly & Training (UNNATI) will close on 30 September. Further rounds are foreseen in 2019 and 2020.

The selected candidates will acquire knowledge about nanosatellites development through a combination of theoretical coursework and hands-on training on Assembly, Integration, and Testing (AIT).

Through the programme, ISRO aims at building capacities in satellite technology for participants from countries interested in developing space programme.

The UNispace Nanosatellite Assembly & Training  (UNNATI) will take place in Bangalore, India. The training will be offered to 30 candidates from 15 countries.

Details of the programme including application form are... read more

Publishing Date: 26/09/2018
PSLV-C42 launching platform. Image: ISRO.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched two Earth observation satellites on 16 September from Sriharikota where the Satish Dhawan Space Center is located. NovaSAR S1-4, which were developed in and will be operated from the United Kingdom, will provide Earth observation data, including for disaster and risk management.

The satellites were constructed by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, a UK-based company that, in partnership with ISRO (the vehicle was developed by Vikram Sarabhai Space Center), has made possible the commercial PSLV-C42 mission to launch the satellite. This is not the only foreign satellite launched by ISRO. Since 1999, the space organization has released several devices from international partners.

... read more
Publishing Date: 21/09/2018
Flooding in India (2013). Photo: Umesh Kumar.

India’s Central Water Commission (CWC) has signed a Collaboration Agreement with Google that will help crisis management agencies deal with extreme hydrological events, such as floods, more effectively. 

The agreement allows CWC to make use of Google’s artificial intelligence, machine learning and geospatial mapping expertise for effective water management and flood forecasting. The agreement will also help CWC to better disseminate flood related information through different platforms developed by Google. 

Under this Agreement, CWC and Google will share technical expertise in different fields related to flood management, including  geospatial flood mapping and analysis of hydrological observation data. The agreement also facilitates collaboration on improving flood prediction systems, which will help provide location-targeted, actionable flood warnings; a high priority research project utilizing Google Earth Engine to help visualize and improve... read more

Publishing Date: 10/07/2018
Image: Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon. NASA.

The National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), a programme under the auspices of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), has engineered a new monitoring system to observe forest cover change and combat deforestation. By combining optical remote sensing, geographic information system, artificial intelligence and automation, the new system allows monitoring experts to detect small-scale deforestation to further limit the damage caused to forests and to improve the frequency of reporting from once per year to once per month.

Since 2014, forests across India have suffered from a 105% increase in deforestation. Additionally, whereas forest cover change in India used to take place on a large-scale level of several hectares, it now often occurs in small areas of 1 hectare or less. 

Deforestation has a number of disaster-related implications. On the one hand, it has a negative effect on the carbon cycle and thus contributes to global warming, causes air... read more

Publishing Date: 24/05/2018
The European Commission and Department of Space of India sign a Cooperation Arrangement to share satellite Earth Observation data. Image: European External Action Service (EEAS)

The European Commission (EC) and Department of Space (DoS) of India signed a Cooperation Agreement on 19 March that will enable them to share earth observation data from each other's satellites. This shared space-based information will be used to forecast natural and man-made disasters, to provide emergency response and rescue of people during such disasters, to gather land and ocean data, and for issues related to security, agriculture, climate change and the atmosphere.

Recognising that data sharing will provide mutual benefits, in particular in the pursuit of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, the EC and DoS of India signed the Cooperation Arrangement with the aim of strengthening and... read more

Publishing Date: 17/04/2018
Western Ghats mountain range

Satellites detected multiple forest fires in India in the midst of a deadly forest fire which killed at least 14 trekkers in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu which began on 11 March.

Satellite data analysed by the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of India shows that between 6 and 11 March, as many as 32 forest fires were detected near Bodi Hills, Ahamalai, Kurangani and Kottagudi, all located in the same expanse of the Western Ghats mountain range - near to the Theni district where the disaster occurred. The NRSC said that its... read more

Publishing Date: 21/03/2018
Floods in Uttarakhand, India, in 2013.

The Indian state of Uttarakhand has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in Ahmedabad on 15 February. This understanding gives the Uttarakhand Disaster Mitigation & Management Centre (DMMC) access to the satellite imagery data produced by ISRO to put to use in forecasting potential issues for better disaster management and monitoring weather conditions.

Under the partnership with ISRO, Uttarakhand will be alerted about detectable disasters at least 72 hours in advance, allowing more time for appropriate response procedures to be put in place than is currently the case, and giving a fuller, more detailed image of the entire state for potential issues.

This partnership will also allow post-disaster imagery to become instantly available for analysis by DMMC, which can be useful in assessing damages and developing future strategies in mitigation. Previously, the state had only been able to access this data by... read more

Publishing Date: 22/02/2018
Drought in Sri Lanka in 2012.

The ongoing drought in Sri Lanka, believed to be the worst in 40 years, began towards the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 with abnormally low soil moisture in Northern Sri Lanka and India’s Tamil Nadu state. At the beginning of this month, the number of people affected by the drought exceeded two million.

Drought is not a novel phenomenon in Sril Lanka, but what makes the current episode unique is its intensity, severity and persistence, similar to the drought episodes in 2012 and 2014. Kurunegala District in the North Western Province is one of the areas that has experienced devastating effects of drought ranging from reduction of water supplies for crop irrigation to nearly empty reservoirs, with significant impacts on livelihoods. The effects of the drought have also undermined the country’s rice- based food system.

Relevant and... read more

Publishing Date: 19/09/2017
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Report on Mapping Multiple Climate-related Hazards in South Asia

Countries experience multiple climate-related risks that vary spatially and in time, with the combined impact of such risks carrying severe consequences for the population. A new collaborative research study by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) identifies the need to carry out regional level assessments of these risks in South Asia.

The IWMI Research Report 170 suggests methods for mapping such climate-related risks and estimating their subsequent impacts. Space-based information is a key component in this context and supports efforts to estimate the impact on people and agriculture in South Asia.

Regional, national and sub-national assessments of five related risks - floods, droughts, extreme rainfall, extreme temperature and sea-level rise, were carried out in the region. The... read more

Publishing Date: 04/07/2017
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IRNSS satellite to help locate lost trekkers. Image courtesy of Luca Galuzzi from Wikipedia article "Himalayas"

The Indian Space Research Organization launched on the 28 April 2016 the seventh satellite (IRNSS 1G) of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). Being a navigation satellite, this system is likely to be of immense help in finding lost trekkers in the Himalayan ranges, according to the experts.

This satellite can play an important role in the different phases of the risk management cycle, providing information and tracking natural hazards in order to protect population said the Uttarakhand Space Application Centre (USAC).

Durgesh Pant, the director of USAC, said: "We faced a lot of problems in using the US-based satellite systems here in the past. With our very own satellite system now for navigation, numerous other applications could also be used in the near future. Considering the topography of Uttarakhand, this launch is likely to help us track adventure enthusiasts, tourists and pilgrims who are in danger”.

The Director also commented... read more

Publishing Date: 20/05/2016
Participants in the UN/India Workshop

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), through its Programme on Space Applications and the UN-SPIDER platform, together with the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), jointly organised the United Nations/India workshop on the Use of Earth Observation Data in Disaster Management and Risk Reduction: Sharing the Asian Experience. The workshop was conducted with the aim to share experiences from Asia and other regions of the World regarding the use of Earth observation in disaster management. More than 110 participants from 31 countries (from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Latin America and North America) attended the workshop which was held in Hyderabad, India, from 8 to 10 March 2016. The following technical sessions covered wide range of applications of Earth observation technology in disaster management:

1.   Earth observation in disaster management

2.   Challenges in... read more

Publishing Date: 23/03/2016
Satellite image of India’s Hugli River, one of the many branches of the Ganges (Image: NASA)

NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have joint hands to build an Earth observation satellite called NISAR (NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Mission). The space artifact will be in charge of measuring changes in the Earth’s surface related to motions of the crust and ice surface, and its launch is scheduled for 2021.

Its mission will comprise snow and glacier studies in the Himalayas, monitoring of agricultural biomass over India, Indian coastal and near-shore ocean studies, and disaster monitoring and management.

NASA has already carried out research on missions with L-band and S-band SAR systems together with ISRO, in order to identify changes in the Planet’s surface in three fields: ecosystems, solid Earth and cryospheric sciences. According to AS Kiran Kumar, IROS’s Chairman, "One of the GSLV Mark II (launcher) will carry NASA's satellite NISAR in 2021. There is a very good chance of commercial requirement. Currently we are working on it... read more

Publishing Date: 31/08/2015
Satellite image of floods in the Mandakini River, Northern India, in 2013 (Image: NASA)

The Government of India has established 176 flood forecasting stations across the country which would help to monitor river flooding during monsoons. The stations use information captured by Indian satellites, including near-real time flood inundation maps provided by the National Remote Sensing Centre.

The Central Water Commission (CWC), belonging to the Ministry Water Resources, is in charge of predicting floods in major rivers and their tributaries through rainfall-runoff models provided by the India Meteorological Department. CWC has also used remote sensing imagery and geographical data for monitoring water bodies in the Himalayan region.

Uma Bharti, Minister of Water Resources, stated that "it (Ministry) has set up 176 flood forecasting stations in the country where flood forecasts are issued in every monsoon whenever water level or the inflow in a river exceeds the predefined criteria."

Publishing Date: 14/08/2015
Calcutta city in India during the night. Satellite imagery can contribute to urban planning. (Image: ESA)

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will map 500 cities in September this year. Urban planners' work is to be supported by this information and nearly 50 million people are expected to benefit from the outcome.

Satellite images are going to be used by the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) to illustrate several features of cities with an average of 100 thousand inhabitants each.

The director of NRSC, V.K Dadwal, highlights the importance of the project for the future, done in cooperation with the Indian government: “the urban development ministry and Isro are working on a master plan formulation of these cities so that a vision document can be made on how the city is to be developed”. The initiative is to support the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), launched in June.

AMRUT aims to focus on water supply, sewerage, storm water drains, pedestrian facilities and public transport; as well as to improve amenities such as... read more

Publishing Date: 13/08/2015
Bihar is the most flood prone state in India (Image: NASA)

The International Water Management Institute, UN-SPIDER’s regional Support Office, organised together with the CGIAR research program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) a day long workshop in Patna, India, to present a new project on the development of the Index‐Based Flood Insurance (IBFI) on August 1.

Due to the constant floods India is facing every year and the huge losses these events produce, the IBFI project aims to implement the use of space technologies such as remote sensing images and geographic information systems (GIS) in order to improve the insurance's payout processes. Along with flood hazard models, these technologies can help developing reliable flood parameters for insurances, speed the compensation and therefore reduce harms for low-income communities from flood prone areas.

“Through this project we want to increase the agriculture resilience of the vulnerable farmers in flood prone regions. This is a first of its kind attempt... read more

Publishing Date: 06/08/2015
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