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Remote Sens. 2015, 7(9), 12380-12399; doi:10.3390/rs70912380

Remotely Sensed Nightlights to Map Societal Exposure to Hydrometeorological Hazards

Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Villavägen 16, SE-75236 Uppsala, Sweden
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Guy J-P. Schumann and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 8 May 2015 / Revised: 3 August 2015 / Accepted: 8 September 2015 / Published: 22 September 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing in Flood Monitoring and Management)
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Abstract

This study used remotely sensed maps of nightlights to investigate the etiology of increasing disaster losses from hydrometeorological hazards in a data-scarce area. We explored trends in the probability of occurrence of hazardous events (extreme rainfall) and exposure of the local population as components of risk. The temporal variation of the spatial distribution of exposure to hydrometeorological hazards was studied using nightlight satellite imagery as a proxy. Temporal (yearly) and spatial (1 km) resolution make them more useful than official census data. Additionally, satellite nightlights can track informal (unofficial) human settlements. The study focused on the Samala River catchment in Guatemala. The analyses of disasters, using DesInventar Disaster Information Management System data, showed that fatalities caused by hydrometeorological events have increased. Such an increase in disaster losses can be explained by trends in both: (i) catchment conditions that tend to lead to more frequent hydrometeorological extremes (more frequent occurrence of days with wet conditions); and (ii) increasing human exposure to hazardous events (as observed by amount and intensity of nightlights in areas close to rivers). Our study shows the value of remote sensing data and provides a framework to explore the dynamics of disaster risk when ground data are spatially and temporally limited. View Full-Text
Keywords: natural disasters trends; nighttime satellite images; nightlights; exposure mapping; local scale; Guatemala natural disasters trends; nighttime satellite images; nightlights; exposure mapping; local scale; Guatemala
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Gómez, A.J.S.; Di Baldassarre, G.; Rodhe, A.; Pohjola, V.A. Remotely Sensed Nightlights to Map Societal Exposure to Hydrometeorological Hazards. Remote Sens. 2015, 7, 12380-12399.

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