Satellite map to help in Philippine typhoon recovery efforts

Nov. 14, 2013 at 6:35 PM
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PASADENA, Calif., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Satellite images can help rescue efforts following the typhoon that ravaged the Philippines by accurately identifying locations of the worst damage, NASA says.

Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., working in collaboration with the Italian Space Agency, have created a 27-by-33-mile map covering a region near Tacloban City, where the massive storm, one of the most powerful ever recorded on Earth, made landfall Nov. 8.

The map was created using radar imagery obtained before and after the typhoon hit, employing a prototype algorithm to rapidly detect surface changes caused by natural or human-produced damage.

The technique is most sensitive to detecting destruction of the human-made environment, the researchers said, overlaying red on the map reflecting the heaviest damage to cities and towns in the storm's path.

The map was created as part of a program to build an automated system for providing rapid and reliable GPS and satellite data to support local, national and international hazard monitoring and response communities.

NASA is making the map publicly available for agencies that might be responding to the event through the U.S. Geological Survey's Hazards Data Distribution System as well as through its own website.

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