Brazil flooding


May 8th, 2024


Article, Environment, News

Written by

Marta Mas i Serra

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Brazil 1

The recent devastating floodings in Brazil, particularly in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, have shocked the world with their magnitude and impact. Among the harrowing incidents, a motorway bridge buckling and plunging into a river captured on footage exemplifies the perilous conditions faced by residents in the region. The toll is staggering: 76 lives lost, hundreds of individuals still missing, tens of thousands displaced from their homes, and essential services disrupted due to power cuts and water outages.

A hydroelectric dam collapsed last week following days of intense rain that caused significant flooding. It triggered a two-meter (6.6ft) wave, causing panic and further damage to the already flooded areas.

The images below, from Sentinel 2 (ESA), depict the increase of water in the area, going from 1,002.89 km2 to 8,192.18 km2. The water now engulfs approximately 21.60% of the total area. The first image is from the 21st of April and the second is from the 6th of May.

Before RGB        After RGB

The collapse of this dam, located between Cotiporã and Bento Gonçalves, and the bridge in Santa Maria, both in the Rio Grande do Sul state, underscores the urgent need for advanced methods of assessing structural stability, especially in the face of increasingly extreme weather events. In this context, leveraging earth observation satellite data analysis could prove invaluable in pre-emptively identifying potential risks to critical infrastructure.

Through satellite data analysis, the structural soundness of infrastructures can be continuously monitored and evaluated, enabling the detection of structural issues before they reach critical levels. This proactive approach to infrastructure monitoring can serve as an early warning system, prompting preventive measures before a catastrophic failure ensues.

In the wake of Brazil’s recent flooding, integrating earth observation satellite data analysis into infrastructure monitoring systems holds promise in averting similar disasters in the future. By continuously monitoring key indicators of structural stability and vulnerability, authorities can proactively identify and address risks before they escalate into full-blown crises, ultimately safeguarding lives and mitigating the devastating impacts of natural disasters.