Radarsat-2 Contributions To The Caribbean Satellite Disaster Pilot During Hurricane Seasons 2010, 2011 and 2012
1Canadian Space Agency, CANADA; 2Aerde Environmental Research, CANADA; 3CEOS SBA / Canadian Space Agency, CANADA; 4NASA Goddard/SGT, UNITED STATES; 5Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency, BARBADOS; 6Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Secretariat, Disasters, SWITZERLAND

Based on a disaster-related needs assessment for the implementation of the Global Earth Observations System of Systems (GEOSS), the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is supporting the implementation of multi-risk management and regional applications through specific Tasks. The Tasks related to disasters are being addressed in the current GEO Work Plan under the umbrella of Societal Benefit Areas. In order to address the need for regional applications, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) leads end-to-end regional demonstrations and applications on behalf of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS). CSA is also participating in the Caribbean Satellite Disaster Pilot (CSDP) to implement GEO Task DI-09-02b. Through this Task, NASA is spearheading an effort to improve the application of satellite Earth Observation (EO) technologies to disaster management in the Caribbean. CSA, NASA and other space agencies are contributing EO data sets and know-how to assist in the management of coastal disasters. The paper focuses on the Canadian contributions to the CSDP effort, introducing an effective approach to high-resolution EO acquisition and processing. More specifically, the paper considers RADARSAT-2 Syntethic Aperture Radar (SAR) data targeting, planning, and acquisition of near-real time imagery for change detection on small island in the Caribbean region. Furthermore, the paper highlights the generation, dissemination and utilization of EO-based image map products to assess the nature and areal extent of damage resulting from the destructive forces of hurricanes in five CSDP partner countries. Finally, we address the question how trial efforts to-date during the 2010, 2011 and 2012 hurricane seasons can meet geospatial information requirements of regional as well as national disaster and emergency management organizations in the Caribbean. GOAL AND OBJECTIVES The main goal of the CSDP is to take a coordinated, timely and needs-based approach to utilize detailed EO data effectively when preparing for, assessing and mitigating impacts of natural hazards such as hurricanes. The objectives of our work are threefold: (1) to demonstrate how EO can strengthen regional, national and community level capacity for mitigation, management and coordinated response to natural hazards; (2) to support disaster mitigation and response efforts; and (3) to increase, through capacity building, the ability of disaster and emergency response authorities to integrate satellite-based information into disaster management initiatives. APPROACH, METHODS, AND RESULTS TO-DATE Institutional as well as technical coordination and cooperation are important elements of the CSDP implementation. Since its inception in 2009, the CSDP is demonstrating the use of EO products and services in close cooperation with the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean (CATHALAC) and five national partners, including Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, Grenada, Jamaica, and Saint Lucia. More recently, project activities were focusing on near-real time warning and response and on risk mitigation and preparedness. Technically, the RADARSAT change detection approach of disaster-affected area mapping and visualization depended on the use of well-targeted, timely and detailed SAR data; these were predominantly acquired in Ultrafine imaging mode before and immediately after the passage of a threatening hurricane. In 2010, 2011 and 2012 some 140 RADARSAT-2 scenes were acquired during ascending as well as descending orbital passes over the five CSDP partner territories to serve as an ‘anticipatory’ reference data set. Event-specific RADARSAT-2 data collection amounted to 60 scenes during the same time period. These were planned and acquired on very short notice, largely guided by hurricane track forecasts provided by the US National Hurricane Center. Decisions to engage and prepare event-specific satellite image maps products for local and national authorities were based on information related to the passage of nine hurricanes and tropical storms during the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Atlantic hurricane seasons. Geospatial products ranging in scale from 1:100,00 to 1:25,000 were generated by Canadian geomatics companies and disseminated electronically within a few hours to local authorities. Additional requests for rapid RADARSAT-2 SAR data acquisition were met by CSA on several other occasions in the context of threatening disaster situations in Haiti, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Panama. In parallel to the CSDP activities, Canadian efforts also concentrated on determining and documenting specific user requirements at the national level through consultation and EO capacity building with more than 70 practitioners in the disaster and emergency management. CONCLUSION The paper presents examples of the Canadian image maps products for the CSDP that were developed as part of the trials during the 2010, 2011 and 2012 hurricane seasons. It outlines cooperation and coordination issues, technical achievements and constraints, detailed user requirements, as well as planned activities.