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Update on the Sentinel-1A satellite

June 16, 2014 2 comments

In April we wrote about the launch of the Sentinel-1A satellite, part of the European Union’s Copernicus Earth Observation project, and the plans to make the data publicly available. Although the satellite is still being calibrated and not yet fully operational, it has already provided some radar data to help support the recent flood mapping activity in the Balkans. As the radar on-board Sentinal-1A can operate through cloud, rain and in darkness it is especially useful for monitoring floods.

After persistent heavy rainfall resulted in widespread flooding and a number of landslides in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the emergency services needed access to accurate and current maps of the region to support the relief effort.  The data from Sentinel-1A helped identify areas of flooding that the emergency services were unaware of.

Balkan Flood Map.  © ESA/European Commission

Balkan Flood Map.
© ESA/European Commission

 

The Sentinel-1A satellite has also helped monitor flooding when the Zambezi River burst its banks in April, inundating the border between Namibia, Zambia and Botswana. Data from the satellite were made available to the Namibian authorities within three hours of collection, providing near real-time information for an area had been difficult to survey on the ground.

Given the impact Sentinel-1A has already had, the Earth Observation project looks set to make a major contribution to environmental monitoring and assessment. The satellite will soon be fully operational, helping to provide some of the data that will support a more holistic approach to environmental management.