The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season was one of the most active and destructive on record, leading to significant flooding in many parts of the United States and the Caribbean. During flooding events such as these, there is an urgent need to quickly map in detail which areas have been severely affected, yet current satellite missions are not capable of sampling the global land surface at high enough spatio-temporal scales for flooding applications. Here, we demonstrate a novel approach to high-resolution flood mapping by repurposing data from the new NASA mission, CYGNSS. The CYGNSS multi-satellite constellation was designed for frequent temporal sampling of the ocean surface in the tropics. We demonstrate that CYGNSS data provide clear signals of surface saturation and inundation extent over land at higher spatio-temporal resolution than radiometers like SMAP. Using a simple thresholding technique, we are able to estimate that approximately 32,580 km2 of land area in Texas flooded during Hurricane Harvey, and approximately 7210 km2 of land area flooded in Cuba during Hurricane Irma, or about 7% of Cuba's total area.
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Chew, Clara; Reager, John T; and Small, Eric, "CYGNSS data map flood inundation during the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season." (2018). Geological Sciences Faculty Contributions. 38.