Article applications of satellite radar imagery for hazard monitoring: Insights from Australia
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© 2021 The Authors. Published by MDPI Publishing.
Earth observation (EO) satellites facilitate hazard monitoring and mapping over large-scale and remote areas. Despite Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites being well-documented as a hazard monitoring tool, the uptake of these data is geographically variable, with the Australian continent being one example where the use of SAR data is limited. Consequently, less is known about how these data apply in the Australian context, how they could aid national hazard monitoring and assessment, and what new insights could be gleaned for the benefit of the international disaster risk reduction community. The European Space Agency Sentinel-1 satellite mission now provides the first spatially and temporally complete global SAR dataset and the first opportunity to use these data to systematically assess hazards in new locations. Using the example of Australia, where floods and uncontrolled bushfires, earthquakes, resource extraction (groundwater, mining, hydrocarbons) and geomorphological changes each pose potential risks to communities, we review past usage of EO for hazard monitoring and present a suite of new case studies that demonstrate the potential added benefits of SAR. The outcomes provide a baseline understanding of the potential role of SAR in national hazard monitoring and assessment in an Australian context. Future opportunities to improve national hazard identification will arise from: new SAR sensing capabilities, which for Australia includes a first-ever civilian EO capability, NovaSAR-1; the integration of Sentinel-1 SAR with other EO datasets; and the provision of standardised SAR products via Analysis Ready Data and Open Data Cubes to support operational applications.
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