Flooding is among the most common natural disasters in our planet and one of the main causes of economic and human life loss worldwide. Evidence suggests the increase of floods at European scale with the Mediterranean coast being critically vulnerable to this risk. The devastating event in the West Mediterranean during the second week of September 2019 is a clear case of this risk crystallization, when a record-breaking flood (locally called the “Cold Drop” (Gota Fría)) has swollen into a catastrophe to the southeast of Spain surpassing previous all-time records. By using a straightforward approach with the Sentinel-2 twin satellites from the Copernicus Programme and the ACOLITE atmospheric correction processor, an initial approximation of the delineated flooded zones, including agriculture and urban areas, was accomplished in quasi-real time. The robust and flexible approach requires no ancillary data for rapid implementation. A composite of pre- and post-flood images was obtained to identify change detection and mask water pixels. Sentinel-2 identifies not only impacts on land but also on water ecosystem and its services, providing information on water quality deterioration and concentration of suspended matter in highly sensitive environments. Subsequent water quality deterioration occurred in large portions of Mar Menor, the largest coastal lagoon in the Mediterranean. The present study demonstrates the potentials brought by the free and open-data policy of Sentinel-2, a valuable source of rapid synoptic spatio-temporal information at the local or regional scale to support scientists, managers, stakeholders, and society in general during and after the emergency.
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