25 January 2011

First satellite images of the Brazil landslides

Posted by Dave Petley

Obtaining decent satellite imagery of the devastating Brazil landslide disaster has proven to be exceptionally difficult due to the presence of clouds across the affected area.  This is probably the reason why the Disaster Charter activation has yet to yield any imagery.  However, NASA has managed to collect an ASTER image of the affected area (hat-tip to Dalia Kirchbaum for highlighting this to me) and has now posted the image online.   

The image is of course a false colour composite, meaning that vegetation shows up as red and bare soil as a turquoise or brown colour.  It is this contrast that allows the landslides to be seen.  Unfortunately, the resolution of ASTER is quite low, but the presence of many fresh landslides is clear:

Some of the areas of landslides certainly look both interesting and intense:

Hopefully, some technical information will start to emerge about these slides in the next few days.  I am left wondering why the landslide community does not have the equivalent of the EERI reconnaissance reports to affected areas.