Satellite Images Reveal Impact of European Floods


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Satellite Images Reveal Impact of European Floods

Towns in multiple countries have been devastated. We used radar technology to look through the clouds at the damage below.

[sirens] “Oh my God!” The flooding in Western Europe is a catastrophe of historic proportions. Satellite images are often one of the best ways to grasp the scale of natural disasters, but when we tried looking at it from above, all these images showed were clouds, clouds and more clouds. So we tapped a Finland-based company called ICEYE. Their radar-imaging technology can see through clouds to capture, in real time, the magnitude and nature of the flooding on the ground. This is Erftstadt in Germany, one of the towns most heavily affected by the flooding. This radar image shows the floodwater as black masses here. One key detail is a field on the edge of this neighborhood. On July 15, it is flooded. Next to it is a quarry. A second image taken 24 hours later reveals that the walls of the quarry have collapsed. The resulting landslide has swallowed houses, cars and roads. Across the border in the Netherlands, this image shows the city of Maastricht. There is flooding near the town center and north of the city, close to the airport. A drone captured the scene on the ground. Here are government buildings. This used to be a harbor, and this an RV park. With some European villages still cut off by the flooding, radar technology could help gauge the water’s impact in remote areas and guide rescue efforts. Hundreds are still missing and death tolls are expected to continue to rise as emergency workers make their way through the wreckage.

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