Flooding in Germany: support from space

The flooding in parts of Germany in June 2013 had enormous dimensions and caused great damage.

Above all the Danube and the Elbe and their large tributaries were badly affected. The Zentrum für Satellitengestützte Kriseninformation (Centre for Satellite Based Crisis Information - ZKI) played a special role in combating the disaster.

Intensive rainfalls and extreme soil saturation, caused by a damp May, caused the geographically largest of all flood events since 1950.

The Gemeinsames Lagezentrum des Bundes und der Länder (Joint Information and Situation Centre - GMLZ) commissioned the ZKI on June 3, 2013 to provide situation information on the basis of satel­lite and aerial images for the areas most badly affected by the flooding in the Federal States of Thuringia, Saxony, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.

The request was made as part of the national agency ZKI-DE set up at the beginning of 2013, which on behalf of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) assures the federal agencies active in civil pro­tection access to the products of the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrttechnik (German Aerospace Centre - DLR). The GMLZ is an institution of the Bundesamt für Bevölkerungsschutz und Katastrophenhilfe (Federal Agency for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance - BBK).

Furthermore the GMLZ had also activated the International Charta "Space and Major Disasters", in which public and private operators of earth observation satellites enable fast, free access to current images of disaster areas. In the course of this activation the DLR took the role of a data provider (TerraSAR-X) and also assumed the project management for this deployment as the German member of the Charta.

The ZKI supplied the first map products for the disaster areas to the GMLZ in the early morning of June 4. For this, images of the German radar satellite TerraSAR-X were used, which had only been taken some ten hours previously and were available to the ZKI around 11 pm on June 3.

The ZKI made further satellite and aerial maps of the affected areas available to the disaster man­agement players and the public for download.

During the flooding in 2013 the regional authorities were provided with access data to the high-res­olution products and also other product formats for the purpose of disaster control. The access data for the ZKI web server could be accessed at the situation centres of the Interior Ministries of the Federal States.

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