Disasters

Determining where, when, and how natural hazards may vary and affect people at the global scale is fundamental to formulating mitigation strategies, appropriate and timely responses, and robust recovery plans. Specifically, NASA near-real-time precipitation estimates are used for regional assessments of current and potential wildfires and landslide activity.

Hurricane Forecasting Screenshot
The powerful hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas on September 8, 1900, killing an estimated 8,000 people and destroying more than 3,600 buildings, took the coastal city by surprise. This video looks at advances in hurricane forecasting in the 120 years since, with a focus on the contributions from weather satellites. This satellite technology has allowed us to track hurricanes – their location, movement and intensity. “One of the dramatic impacts is that satellite data keeps an eye on the target," especially over unpopulated areas such as oceans, said JPSS Director Greg Mandt. “We’re sort...
Farmers looking at an App
Unexpected shocks from natural hazards can affect populations throughout the globe, threatening sustainable development and resilience. However, the impacts of these events, such as extreme precipitation or drought, disproportionately affect the developing world where individuals often are not insured and live and work in conditions that leave them vulnerable to natural disasters. This can lead to significant economic and environmental challenges if preventive measures or mitigating measures are not taken in time. To reduce risks from natural disasters and build climate resilience, decision...
Photograph of a landslide on a mountain.
Landslides are one of the most pervasive hazards in the world, resulting in more fatalities and economic damage than is generally recognized. Every year they block roads, damage infrastructure, and cause thousands of fatalities. Intense and prolonged rainfall is the most frequent landslide trigger around the world, but earthquakes and human influence can also cause significant and widespread landsliding. Using satellite data, we can identify the conditions under which landslides typically occur, helping to improve monitoring and modeling of these hazards
Landslide Risk in High Mountain Asia
More frequent and intense rainfall events due to climate change could cause more landslides in the High Mountain Asia region of China, Tibet and Nepal, according to the first quantitative study of the link between precipitation and landslides in the region. The model shows landslide risk for High Mountain Asia increasing in the summer months in the years 2061-2100, thanks to increasingly frequent and intense rainfall events. Summer monsoon rains can destabilize steep mountainsides, triggering landslides. Credits: NASA's Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens High Mountain Asia stores more fresh...
Rain Brought Brief Relief to Australia
For much of the 2019-2020 austral summer, plumes of bushfire smoke have billowed from southeastern Australia in such large amounts that the ground was barely visible in satellite images. In mid-January, some of those plumes were finally quelled by a few days of much-needed rainfall.
GPM Data Mitigates Landslide Risks in Bangladesh
Camp managers and other local officials overseeing Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh are now incorporating NASA satellite observations into their decision making in order to reduce the risk to refugees from landslides and other natural hazards. Information like daily rain totals can help inform how to lay out refugee camps and store supplies. More than 740,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since August 2017. Many of them have sought shelter in camps located in the hilly countryside, where landslide risk may be the greatest. Increasing this danger is Bangladesh’s intense monsoon season. Approximately 80 percent of Bangladesh's yearly rain falls in just five months, from June to October, bringing with it an increased risk of flash flooding and landslides.