Feeds

Europe's floods and fires snapped from space

All looks rather small

Top three mobile application threats

The Thames bursts its banks: ESA

The Thames bursts its banks: ESA

The flooding in the UK is visible from space, and the European Space Agency (ESA) has the pictures to prove it. The agency's earth monitoring Envisat satellites have also snapped the fires raging across much of southern Europe.

The flooding in the UK is the worst to hit the country in 60 years, with hundreds of thousands of people being cut off from water and electricity supplies by the rising waters.

The effect on the nation has been dramatic, and the cost enormous: official estimates are that the damage will cost the insurance industry at least £2bn. The clean up is expected to take months.

But from space, the pictures of the Thames bursting its banks last Wednesday are oddly underwhelming, tiny on the scale of a planet.

Similarly, the lethal fires burning in Italy and Greece look like small puffs of smoke drifting over an otherwise serene Earth. The scale is hard to grasp.

The Abruzzo region in Italy (pictured) has been one of the hardest hit, according to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF). The group says some 4,500 hectares of protected land have been ravaged by the flames in the last three weeks, with strong winds frustrating firefighting efforts.

Italy aflame. ESA

Italy aflame: ESA

Satellite images like these are increasingly useful for co-ordinating emergency response, ESA says, because the images give officials the kind of overview of the extent of the flooding that is hard to get from the ground.

Back in 2000, it set up the International Charter on "Space and Major Disasters", along with French space agency CNES. The idea was to give free emergency response satellite data to those affected by natural disasters anywhere in the world. Last week, the UK asked for help from the charter. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Most Americans doubt Big Bang, not too sure about evolution, climate change – survey
Science no match for religion, politics, business interests
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.