River floods claim thousands of lives every year, but effective and high-resolution methods to map human exposure to floods at the global scale are still lacking. We use satellite nightlight data to prove that nocturnal lights close to rivers are consistently related to flood damages. We correlate global data of economic losses caused by flooding events with nighttime ligh ts and find that increasing nightlights are associated to flood damage intensification. Then, we analyze the temporal evolution of nightlights along the river network all over the world from 1992 to 2012 and obtain a global map of nightlight trends, which we associate with increasing human exposure to floods, at 1 km 2 resolution. An enhancement of exposure to floods worldwide, particularly in Africa and Asia, is revealed, which may exacerbate the projected effects of climate change on flood-related losses and therefore argues for the development of valuable flood preparedness and mitigation strategies.

Satellite nighttime lights reveal increasing human exposure to floods worldwide

CEOLA, SERENA;MONTANARI, ALBERTO
2014

Abstract

River floods claim thousands of lives every year, but effective and high-resolution methods to map human exposure to floods at the global scale are still lacking. We use satellite nightlight data to prove that nocturnal lights close to rivers are consistently related to flood damages. We correlate global data of economic losses caused by flooding events with nighttime ligh ts and find that increasing nightlights are associated to flood damage intensification. Then, we analyze the temporal evolution of nightlights along the river network all over the world from 1992 to 2012 and obtain a global map of nightlight trends, which we associate with increasing human exposure to floods, at 1 km 2 resolution. An enhancement of exposure to floods worldwide, particularly in Africa and Asia, is revealed, which may exacerbate the projected effects of climate change on flood-related losses and therefore argues for the development of valuable flood preparedness and mitigation strategies.
GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS
Serena Ceola;Francesco Laio;Alberto Montanari
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/371527
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