Active Archive of Large Floods, 1985-Present

Master Index of Inundation Maps

Surface Water Data Record

River Watch

Other Flood Detection Tools

Sample Images and Maps

Africa/SERVIR Flood Mapping and Severity Assessment

Ganges/Brahmaputra Flood Information System

Surface Water Response to Drought






AFRICA-SERVIR Flood Mapping and Severity Assessment

Using microwave- and optical-wavelength satellite sensors operated by NASA and the Japanese Space Agency, river flooding can be detected, measured, and mapped as it occurs. By preserving the record of prior flood events, the severity of new floods can also be accurately assessed.

Flood Detection

The Flood Observatory collaborates with the European Commission's Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS, at the Joint Research Centre). It thereby obtains near-real-time AMSR-E microwave data over thousands of river measurement sites. Through special processing techniques (developed by G.R. Brakenridge, S.V. Nghiem, and T. DeGroeve), the initiation of overbank flooding can be detected, and the flood hydrograph can be tracked over days or weeks of time.

These are displays from Dartmouth's "River Watch" system, here adapted to particular regions within Africa. Further work is underway at Dartmouth to provide calibrated discharge values for each river measurement site; and at the Joint Research Centre to reduce the processing lag time. We plan, as well, incorporation of other cloud-penetrating microwave data, such the 37 GHz channel of the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM), into the flood detection algorithms.

Sub-Saharan Africa River Watch

River Watch measurement site status compared to current TRMM 7-day rainfall totals

River Watch measurement site status compared to FEWS Runoff Anomalies


Flood Mapping







Flood Severity Assessment









This work is made possible by data obtained by NASA, JAXA, ESA, and other space agencies, and by funding support from the Earth Surface and Interior Focus Area and the Applied Sciences Program, Science Mission Directorate, NASA, from the Africa-SERVIR project, from the Pacific Disaster Center, and from the European Commission (GDACS project, Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy).


©2008 Dartmouth Flood Observatory