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NASA to Aid Disaster Preparedness in Rio de Janeiro
by Staff Writers
Greenbelt MD (SPX) May 26, 2016

These images show the reach of the greater Rio city environment. The left image was taken by the Landsat 5 satellite on Sept. 19, 1984. The right image came from Landsat 8's Operational Land Imager instrument on Sept. 25, 2015. Image courtesy NASA's Earth Observatory/USGS.

NASA has signed an agreement with Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to support innovative efforts to better understand, anticipate, and monitor natural hazards, including drought, flooding, and landslides, in and around the city.

The collaboration will leverage the unique attributes of NASA's satellite data systems and Rio de Janeiro's monitoring and crisis management capabilities to improve hazard monitoring and disaster response. The agreement between NASA's Earth Science Division and the city's mayor's office was signed in December 2015.

NASA provides satellite imagery and data from its fleet of Earth-observing satellites that is openly available to the public. Products derived from these sources are of potential value to diagnose potential hazards within the region. The City of Rio de Janeiro will provide in situ data and evaluate the routine application of Earth-observing data for monitoring efforts, decision support, and action.

The collaboration will focus on integrating, visualizing, and sharing relevant data from NASA satellites including the joint US/Japan Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors on board the Terra and Aqua satellites. Data from local and regional monitoring networks within the greater Rio de Janeiro region will also be used.

NASA's Earth Science Division seeks to develop a scientific understanding of Earth's system and its response to natural or human-induced changes, and to improve prediction of climate, weather, and natural hazards. A major component of NASA's Earth science program is a coordinated series of satellite and airborne missions for long-term global observations of the land surface, biosphere, solid Earth, atmosphere, and oceans. This coordinated approach enables an improved understanding of the Earth as an integrated system.

NASA's Earth Science Division is partnering with the Mayor's Office which oversees several research and operational agencies that play a role in natural hazard mitigation and response. The Instituto Perieira Passos is the statistical and cartographic research arm of the municipal government, and handles Rio de Janeiro's statistical data.

The Centro de Operacoes, essentially Rio de Janeiro's smart city hub, integrates over 30 agencies to anticipate, reduce, and respond immediately to threats like flooding, fires, and traffic accidents. The Fundacao Geo-Rio acts as a geological research organization that has significant expertise in landslides. Together, these agencies provide a comprehensive set of tools and resources that help the city respond in innovative ways to a variety of natural disasters.

This agreement comes as Rio de Janeiro prepares to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. This collaboration extends beyond the Olympics to provide important research and management applications. Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes noted that his city has historically suffered from massive rainstorms and subsequent floods and landslides, all of which can cause casualties and adverse socioeconomic impacts. Discussions are already underway between the partners to address those impacts, and both parties are looking forward to future potential cooperative activities.

NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives, and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

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