The Lower Mekong Basin is subject to extremes in streamflow conditions, including frequent flooding during the annual monsoon. Understanding and chronicling historic and current events are critical for land use planning and disaster response. Surface water distribution changes over space and time and these patterns can provide insight into ecological structure and function, patterns of flooding and flood risk, and the impacts of infrastructure and climate change on landscapes and hydrological systems.
However, such patterns have been difficult to monitor and measure over large areas and longer time span. With increased access to large volumes of remotely sensed data and innovative techniques for optimizing the processing and interpretation of those data, these measurements are now more accessible than ever before. With modern technology and the development of remote sensing and geographic information systems as disciplines, additional resources are becoming available that can complement and significantly improve optically-sourced data. Among the most significant of these are the use of spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for providing dependable all-weather observations of surface water detection.
SERVIR-Mekong is a regional initiative of USAID and NASA, implemented by the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC). SERVIR-Mekong’s main goal is to enhance use of applications of geospatial analysis to critical, urgent, or common policy and planning needs, especially in the context of disaster risk reduction and response, climate change adaptation, water security, food security, and landscape management. The countries covered by the Lower Mekong region are Myanmar, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam.
Supported technically by the NASA SERVIR Coordination Office (SCO) and a NASA Subject Matter Expert (SME), Dr. Bruce Chapman, SERVIR-Mekong will be convening a training on SAR for water and disaster applications. In the five-day training, participants learnt some of the basics of SAR, how to obtain SAR data, and how it can be used for making maps that are related to the surface water and flood, and its basic limitations. A further component of the training related to future SAR systems, and what local resource monitoring groups can do to develop a basic expertise that will make best use of this SAR data. This training took place between June 10 and 14 at the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC) and was attended by James Wanjohi from RCMRD.
Training Objectives included an introduction to SAR technology, data sources, and accessibility and learning on SAR for water and disaster related applications. There were 20 participants were drawn from ADPC staff, SERVIR-Mekong consortium partners, other SERVIR Hubs staff, selected water-related government partners and university partners. After the training, participants were able to: acquire and perform simple tasks with SAR data, identify and learn on some basic tools in reading and interpreting SAR data and use SAR data for surface water detection applications.