Knowing the extent of a flood -- such as the disasters seen recently in Germany and Central Europe -- and understanding how it might develop is essential for teams responding to an emergency, researchers said.
Normally such understanding comes from data from ground and airborne sensors along with historical flood maps hurriedly pieced together, but the method can be overwhelmed by extensive floods and bad weather, they said.
Now a collaboration between the ESA and a number of European researcher entities has develop a simple, easy-to-use system that could be available to anyone online, a release from the agency's Paris headquarters said.
Near-realtime measurements by radar satellites, including ESA's Sentinel-1 satellite, are processed to create location-specific flood maps and deliver them via the Internet to PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
The system has been dubbed FAAPS, for Fully Automated Aqua Processing Service.
"FAAPS is an excellent example of the added value of satellite data made accessible to crisis management teams for aiding rescue operations," the ESA's Olivier Becu said.