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This New Tool Lets You See Floods From Around the World, Dating Back to 1985

Smithsonian Magazine: An innovative interactive map could aid future disaster planning, especially for vulnerable countries in the developing world. “Last month, the United Nations University released a free tool that generates high resolution maps of floods worldwide since 1985. The new resource comes after a year of historic water-related disasters, including severe floods in Western Europe and the northeastern United States. Experts hope the online tool will aid in disaster readiness and future planning, especially for vulnerable countries with limited access to reliable flood maps.  The tool allows scientists, organizations and curious members of the public to adjust variables to see where floods have occurred in the past. Users can select a location and timeframe, and the tool, which draws on decades of data from remote-sensing satellites, produces a flood map at a 30-meter—about 100-foot—resolution. Viewers can see water inundation images down to street level. Similar mapping tools have been developed to assess floods by type and region, “but you don’t see anything happening at a global scale,” says Hamid Mehmood, a remote-sensing specialist at UN University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UN-INWEH) in Hamilton, Canada, and the tool’s lead developer…”

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