Bangladesh Implements Satellite-Based Flood Forecasting And Warning System

As a collaboration project between NASA’s Earth Science Division, NASA’s Applied Science Program, USAID, and other worldwide partner institutions, SERVIR (an acronym meaning “to serve” in Spanish) provides vital Earth observation data to developing countries in order to improve their environmental decision making processes.

Recently, Bangladesh has adopted a satellite-based flood forecasting system, developed by SERVIR, in support of its current flood control management.

Bangladesh, located on the delta of Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers, in South Asia, is one of the world’s most heavily populated countries and one of the most inclined to either heavy flooding, largely due to river floods caused by overwhelming runoff of monsoon precipitation, or coastal floods brought about by tropical cyclone storm surges. This affects up to thirty percent of the country annually.

Plans to expand the satellite-based flood forecasting system have been announced by Bangladesh officials. The system makes use of river projections data provided by the Jason-2 satellite, which was developed by SERVIR and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development. Jason-2 supplies longer lead time, with an eight-day advanced notice, in comparison to previous flood warnings that were issued only three to five days ahead of time.

SERVIR Applied Sciences Team Member, Faisal Hossain, explained that Jason-2’s radar altimeter is able to calculate the extent of space between the satellite and the surface of the river at the exact coordinate of the satellite as it moves in space. Thus, the river’s height at that point is known through the data that is almost instantaneously generated.

More than fifty percent of the population relies on flood warnings issued by the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) Flood Forecasting and Warning Center. During the previous year’s monsoon season, the Flood Forecasting and Warning Center (FFWC) tested the advanced Jason-2 technology and successfully produced 8-day advanced flood forecasts at different sites of the Ganges and Brahmaputra River. Moreover, the system makes use of a 30-minute processing time.

Currently, FFWC is continuously implementing the Jason-2 and have been effectively producing the satellite-based water level predictions, which is accessible on their website.

Due to the remarkable performance of the system, FFWC hopes to utilize the Jason-2 based forecasting system on the whole country this 2015. Hossain expressed his anticipation of the use of the technology nationwide so that more people may be able to take advantage of this new system.