Monitoring urban floods using remote sensing

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

According to the UNDP, by 2050 two thirds of the world’s population is likely to live in cities. Urban flooding is already a major risk for cities. Increasing impervious surface area, inadequate storm water drainage, and aging infrastructure all contribute. As a result, growing urban populations will face a greater risk of flooding from extreme weather events. This webinar series will focus on the components of urban flooding that satellite data can track:

  • extreme precipitation
  • flooding
  • waterlogged and ponded surfaces

Using satellite data allows individuals and organizations to develop better plans for handling floods. This can include developing better early warning techniques, better plans for rescue and relief, and more effective long-term infrastructure planning.

Learning Objectives: 

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

  • Describe remote sensing and Earth system model data useful for flood monitoring in urban areas
  • Identify how remote sensing can aid in planning early warning systems, flood response, and flood recovery efforts

Course Format: 

  • Two, two hour sessions
  • Sessions will be held on Wednesday, July 25 and August 1, 2018
  • A certificate of completion will be provided to participants that attend all live webinars and complete all homework assignments. Note: Certificates of completion only indicate the attendee participated in all aspects of the training. They do not imply proficiency on the subject matter, nor should they be seen as a professional certification.


Fundamentals of Remote Sensing, Session 1, or equivalent knowledge


This training is primarily intended for urban water and disaster managers, urban planners, emergency responders, transportation and utility providers and planners, public health professionals, and the insurance sector. Individuals from these types of organizations will be given preference over individuals and organizations focused primarily on research. 

Registration Information: 

There is no cost for the webinar, but you must register to attend the sessions. Please only sign up for either session A or B, not both. 

Course Agenda: 


Session One, July 25

This session will provide an overview of causes and risks associated with urban flooding. It will also go through data needs for flood management (before, during, and after flooding) and how to use remote sensing to monitor precipitation. 

Session Two, August 1

This session will look at examples of SAR-based urban flood monitoring and examples of LIDAR data for urban floodplain detection. Attendees will also learn about Landsat-based urban data, SRTM terrain data, socioeconomic data, and how to access MODIS Near Real-Time data, the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS), and the Global Flood Monitoring System (GFMS).

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