New flood forecasting technology from this year

The Flood Forecast and Warning Center (FFWC) has adopted a new satellite-based flood forecasting system.
Based on its successful operations, for the first time, during the monsoon in 2014 the FFWC decided to adopt the space-based technology.
The new technology would be put into operations from this year to give early warning and prepare for timely evacuation at least eight days ahead of the actual flood which has never happened before.
"The satellite-based flood forecasting technology would supplement the existing prediction due to limitations of the existing slow and complex ground-based water measurement system. The new satellite technology helps to instantly translate observations on the state of rivers over a much larger region and forecast flood within about 30 minutes," Mohammad Amirul Hossain, Executive Engineer of FFWC told The Daily Observer.
During its experimental trial last year FFWC used a satellite called Jason-2 to accurately predict flood and was able to forecast flooding eight days in advance at nine locations of the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers of the country.
The key instigator of this effort was a NASA-USAID programme called, SERVIR. As a collaboration project between NASA’s Applied Science Division, USAID, and other worldwide partner institutions, SERVIR provided vital earth observation data that can detect the monsoonal flood wave swelling from the north in the upstream Indian region of the Brahmaputra basin and tributaries.
Since June 2014, the FFWC has been successfully producing eight-day Jason-2 based forecasts of water levels at major river locations of Bangladesh on a daily basis using ground data including at Hardinge Bridge and Bahadurabad points.
The Jason-2 satellite-based forecasting system was developed by SERVIR that helps developing countries use information provided by earth observing satellites to address environmental issues, including natural disasters.
About the technology, SERVIR Applied Sciences Team Member, Dr Faisal Hossain said, "The altimeter measures the elevation of the water surface in the river where it crosses using the travel time taken for a radar pulse to get reflected back to the sensor in space. This is the key information that altimeter enables at the most fundamental level that is otherwise not available at trans-boundary locations (beyond Bangladesh borders) on a near-real-time basis."
Hossain, also a professor at the University of Washington in the US said, "Using this height, we have explored various ways to relate it to the ‘expected’ river height downstream a certain days later."
Arifuzzaman Bhuiyan, a senior engineer of FFWC, a wing of Bangladesh Water Development Board, said, "It is important to have valid information such as floodplain maps, river bed depth, slope, river width and shapes of river cross sections for the entire network. Unfortunately, this kind of information is either not measured or not shared among nations that make up the large river basins."
Dr Amirul Hossain said, "Now that we have the expertise to predict on the rising or falling river water trends our next goal is scaling up this experience and use more ground water measuring points which would give us even more accurate results."
Dr Faisal Hossain also plans to use more satellite radars (to be launched in next few years) for a more unprecedented global view of Earth’s surface water movement. He said that with the additional ‘eyes in the sky’, satellites could provide more frequent and accurate observations that are increasingly important for developing countries.
The satellite forecasting warning technology could potentially help evacuate millions of poor Bangladeshis, especially in Teesta, Brahmaputra and Jamuna river basins where in every monsoon about two-thirds of these areas get submerged in sudden on-rush of the waters from the up-stream.
The low-lying delta regions of Bangladesh have over 300 rivers, including 52 major rivers flowing from India alone. Sudden floods damage millions of dollars worth of agriculture produces, roads, homesteads, cattle and leave people in distress.