, Volume 82, Issue 2, pp 119-148

Using NOAA AVHRR Data to Assess Flood Damage in China

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The article used two NOAA-14 Advanced Very High ResolutionRadiometer (AVHRR) datasets to assess flood damage in the middleand lower reaches of China's Changjiang River (Yangtze River) in 1998. As the AVHRR is an optical sensor, it cannot penetratethe clouds that frequently cover the land during the flood season, and this technology is greatly limited in flood monitoring. However the widely used normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) can be used to monitor flooding, sincewater has a much lower NDVI value than other surface features.Though many factors other than flooding (e.g. atmospheric conditions, different sun-target-satellite angles, and cloud) can change NDVI values, inundated areas can be distinguished fromother types of ground cover by changes in the NDVI value beforeand after the flood after eliminating the effects of other factors on NDVI. AVHRR data from 26 May and 22 August, 1998 wereselected to represent the ground conditions before and after flooding. After accurate geometric correction by collecting GCPs,and atmospheric and angular corrections by using the 6S code, NDVI values for both days and their differences were calculatedfor cloud-free pixels. The difference in the NDVI values betweenthese two times, together with the NDVI values and a land-use map, were used to identify inundated areas and to assess the arealost to the flood. The results show a total of 358 867 ha, with 207 556 ha of cultivated fields (paddy and non-irrigated field) inundated during the flood of 1998 in the middle and lower reaches of the Changjiang River Catchment; comparing with the reported total of 321 000 and 197 000 ha, respectively. The discrimination accuracy of this method was tested by comparing the results from two nearly simultaneous sets of remote-sensingdata (NOAA's AVHRR data from 10 September, 1998, and JERS-1 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data from 11 September, 1998, with a lag of about 18.5 hr) over a representative flooded regionin the study area. The results showed that 67.26% of the total area identified as inundated using the NOAA data was also identified as inundated using the SAR data.