Using Multi-Spectral Remote Sensing for Flood Mapping: A Case Study in Lake Vembanad, India

Kulk, G, Sathyendranath, S, Platt, T, George, G, Suresan, AK, Menon, N, Evers-King, H and Abdulaziz, A 2023 Using Multi-Spectral Remote Sensing for Flood Mapping: A Case Study in Lake Vembanad, India. Remote Sensing, 15 (21). 5139.

Kulk et al (2023).pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (3MB) | Preview
Official URL:


Water is an essential natural resource, but increasingly water also forms a threat to the human population, with floods being the most common natural disaster worldwide. Earth Observation has the potential for developing cost-effective methods to monitor risk, with free and open data available at the global scale. In this study, we present the application of remote sensing observations to map flooded areas, using the Vembanad-Kol-Wetland system in the southwest of India as a case study. In August 2018, this region experienced an extremely heavy monsoon season, which caused once-in-a-century floods that led to nearly 500 deaths and the displacement of over a million people. We review the use of existing algorithms to map flooded areas in the Lake Vembanad region using the spectral reflectances of the green, red and near-infrared bands from the MSI sensor on board Sentinel-2. Although the MSI sensor has no cloud-penetrating capability, we show that the Modified Normalised Difference Water Index and the Automated Water Extraction Index can be used to generate flood maps from multi-spectral visible remote sensing observations to complement commonly used SAR-based techniques to enhance temporal coverage (from 12 to 5 days). We also show that local knowledge of paddy cultivation practices can be used to map the manoeuvring of water levels and exclude inundated paddy fields to improve the accuracy of flood maps in the study region. The flood mapping addressed here has the potential to become part of a solution package based on multi-spectral visible remote sensing with capabilities to simultaneously monitor water quality and risk of human pathogens in the environment, providing additional important services during natural disasters.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Keywords: Earth Observation; inundation; natural disasters; paddy fields; water quality
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > National Capability categories > National Centre for Earth Observation
Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Earth Observation Science and Applications
Depositing User: S Hawkins
Date made live: 24 Nov 2023 11:05
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2023 13:57

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item