NASA’s Earth Observations Can Help Disaster Preparedness and Response on the Ground

Colored satellite image of the region to the east of the Great Salt Lake in Utah.
An Unwrapped Interferogram satellite image on 3/22/2020, for Utah’s Magna earthquake, can be used to identify where surface deformation may have occurred. Photo attribution: ASF DAAC 2020 using GAMMA software. Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data 2020, processed by ESA.

The Disasters program area within NASA’s Applied Sciences Program offers satellite data and analysis to help improve the resilience of communities and support response and recovery following earthquakes and other disasters.

Information and analysis provided by the program can help communities identify vulnerabilities and better plan for and mitigate their hazards. When disaster does strike, the Disasters Program team works with local emergency response agencies to connect them to timely, relevant imagery, data, and analysis that supports informed decision-making and impactful allocation of resources.

To learn more, check out the NASA Disasters Mapping Portal and the following links on the program’s website:


Critical Tsunami Info for Oregon Disaster Response Planners

CREW board member Yumei Wang produced the Cascadia Tsunami Casualty Estimates Report (2021) for the Oregon coast, now available on the Oregon Health Authority website. The casualty estimates, as well as descriptions of direct health effects of tsunamis on survivors, can be used by coastal hospitals, communities, and emergency planners to help shape realistic planning scenarios for emergency response exercises, such as Cascadia Rising 2022.

Underlying the report’s tsunami casualty estimates is the assumption that everyone in Oregon’s tsunami inundation zones is quick to evacuate on foot using optimal tsunami evacuation routes immediately after the Cascadia earthquake. In spite of this efficient evacuation, a large tsunami causes an estimated 18,667 fatalities and 819 injuries.

Funding for the report was provided by the Health Security, Preparedness and Response (HSPR) Program of the Oregon Health Authority.

Yumei Wang is owner of Sustainable Living Solutions LLC, as well as Senior Advisor on Infrastructure Resilience and Risk in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department of the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science at Portland State University.