In The News

California Fires

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The Thomas Fire burning in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties is the largest wildfire recorded in California during the month of December.  The RADARSAT-2 satellite is able to see through cloud, haze, and smoke and it is capable of imaging thousands of square kilometers in one single collect at high resolution. This capability offers an extremely powerful method for accessing forest degradations.  

As of December 17, the wildfire damage, as seen from space, is approximated to be 300,588 acres.  When combined with other information such as population density, infrastructure maps, wind map, etc., government agencies will be able to use the information to focus resources on critical areas. 

The RADARSAT-2 Coherence Change map above accurately depicts the extent of the fire as observed on December 10th and December 17th, with the very dark areas in the image representing significant damage to the forest canopy.




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The California wildfires continue to burn over extensive areas. RADARSAT-2 imagery has the unique advantage of seeing through the smoke and is providing an early view of the fire damage. December 7, 2017 collection over the of Rye Fire near Santa Clarita and the December 10th collection over the Ventura Thomas Fire were compared to previous image collections over the same areas using coherence change between imaging dates. The fire damage is clearly identifiable by the dark features in both graphics.

To download the images shown above, please visit our Image Gallery.

If you need RADARSAT information to support response activities, please contact clientservices@mdacorporation.com

Media terms of use


  • Print/web – Media may publish use these images with cutline photo credit “satellite image ©2017 MDA Geospatial Services.” The MDA watermark may not be removed.
  • Broadcast/video – Images used in video segments must have “MDA” text applied to the image and visible for the duration that the images are on screen.
  • Social media – Images posted on social media must be credited “[camera emoji]: @MDA_Geospatial” or “image: @MDA_Geospatial” in each post.

DigitalGlobe satellite imagery of the California wildfires


To support efforts to combat the ongoing wildfires in California, DigitalGlobe is making critical imagery and data available through our Open Data Program. DigitalGlobe is publicly releasing satellite imagery for Ventura, California, and surrounding communities and will expand our coverage based on the fire’s activity. DigitalGlobe partnered with Mapbox to update their fire tracking map with the latest imagery. This map allows users to search addresses and zoom in on specific areas in or near the fire zones, and it includes the latest fire perimeters provided by first responders on the ground. View the map here: https://www.mapbox.com/labs/norcal-fire-2017/

Also available for publication are several JPEGs taken by DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-3 satellite, which has a Shortwave Infrared (SWIR) sensor that can pierce through the smoke and show where the fires are burning on the ground. The December 7 images show Mira Monte, Oak View, and Casitas Springs using the SWIR bands. The December 6 images show fires burning in the mountains east of San Fernando, both in natural color, with smoke visible, and SWIR, which is smoke-free. https://digitalglobe.box.com/s/ob80d4qo02xl6ehikro718y2xsryp4xj

Media terms of use


  • Print/web – Media may publish use these images with cutline photo credit “satellite image ©2017 DigitalGlobe.” The DigitalGlobe watermark may not be removed.
  • Broadcast/video – Images used in video segments must have “DigitalGlobe” text applied to the image and visible for the duration that the images are on screen.
  • Social media – Images posted on social media must be credited “[camera emoji]: @DigitalGlobe” or “image: @DigitalGlobe” in each post.


Hurricane Irma

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RADARSAT-2 Image of Hurricane Irma
Date: September 8, 2017
RADARSAT-2 ScanSar Wide A - VH Polarization
Pass / Look Direction: Descending / Right Looking

This Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) image captured by MDA’s RADARSAT-2 satellite on September 8, 2017 depicts Hurricane Irma. The dark centre depicts the relatively calm ocean surface within the eye, which spans approximately 30 kilometers, while the lighter gray surrounding the hurricane depicts rough waters caused by torrential rainfall and high winds. The 500 km x 500 km image gives a sense of the immense size of the storm. To download the image shown above, please visit our Image Gallery.

If you need RADARSAT information to support Hurricane Irma relief activities, please contact clientservices@mdacorporation.com



Hurricane Harvey - Houston, Texas

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RADARSAT-2 Image of Non-Flood Conditions
Date: July 24, 2016.
RADARSAT-2 Beam: Fine Wide Mode
Pass / Look Direction: Descending / Right Looking

RADARSAT-2 Image of Flood Conditions resulting from Hurricane Harvey
Date: August 31, 2017
RADARSAT-2 Beam: Fine Wide Mode
Pass / Look Direction: Descending / Left Looking

These two Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images captured by MDA’s RADARSAT-2 satellite depict images of the Houston, Texas area. The image on the left shows the area pre-flood captured in 2016, and the image on the right, shows the same area as of August 31, 2017.  The magnitude of the flooding in this area is depicted in the August 31, 2017 image with water generally appearing as darker areas in the image. To download the images shown above, please visit our Image Gallery.

The report below shows MDA’s flood extent map derived from the image acquired over Houston on August 31. It clearly depicts the widespread flooding that persists in the Houston area. The areas highlighted in blue show the flood extent based on evaluating the change in RADAR signal between the ‘dry’ and ‘flood’ images. With RADARSAT-2’s unique wide-area imaging capabilities and ability to image regardless of cloud cover or light conditions, MDA’s RADARSAT-2 and GIS-ready flood maps are ideal for supporting decision making for Emergency Management authorities. MDA has been acquiring data and supplying information to support agencies for Hurricane Harvey since it’s landfall on August 26th. The information showing the location and extent of flooding have been updated regularly as the disaster evolves, giving disaster relief agencies the information needed to effectively respond and minimize threats to human safety and surrounding infrastructure. 

 

If you need RADARSAT information to support Hurricane Harvey relief activities, please contact clientservices@mdacorporation.com