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Satellites could be used in flood tracking  

As news of yet more floods in South East Asia comes in, questions are being asked about whether existing satellites could be employed to track and predict floods before they have such a devastating effect.

The latest inundations in Thailand have brought back memories of the floods already experienced in Australia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Brazil since the turn of the year. And as the world braces itself for a decade of La NiƱa conditions, further flooding instances could occur more frequently.

Meteorologists are now looking to the skies to create an early-warning system for future incidents. Current systems in use amount to a kind of local early warning system, and employ ground monitors to track rainfall and water height, but the fixed nature of these and their local outlook means the system is somewhat hit-and-miss.

Scientists are planning to use a variety of satellite forecasting and measurement models in a combination to allow them to accurately predict rainfall and flood activity across the globe. The solution involves integrating rainfall and soil moisture models into one system for global monitoring. Such a system may take up to a decade to produce, though some experts predict that it could be up and running within three years.

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