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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER)
Cycle 4 (2015 Deadline)

Scaling up of satellite-assisted flood forecasting systems in south and southeast Asian nations

PI: Md. Sohel Masud (, Institute of Water Modeling, with co-PI Md. Sazzad Hossain (, Flood Forecasting and Warning Center
U.S. Partner: Faisal Hossain, University of Washington
Project Dates: January 2016 - June 2018

Project Overview

TBN24 news feature on the (DIV) satellite-based flood forecasting that showcases very clearly the Liquid earth (smartphone-based) flood inundation forecasting. (Bangla)

South and southeast Asian countries are frequently hit by floods causing loss of lives and property damage. Almost every year in the recent past, a flood has struck in regional countries such as Bangladesh, India, Nepal, or Pakistan. Flood management practices currently available in most of these countries are structural or non-structural. Structural solutions like embankments and other related structures require huge amounts of resources and time. Other non-structural means of flood management include early warning and proactive preparation. In Bangladesh, flood forecasting and warning services (FFWS) have been practiced and have proven effective. FFWS have been providing effective. The Flood Forecasting and Warning Center (FFWC), under the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), was established in 1972 and contributes to preparations at the agency and community levels for flood disaster management in Bangladesh. Back when the Center began, it could only provide flood warnings a few hours in advance, but by 2014 they could issue such warnings 8 days in advance, thanks to NASA satellite data from JASON-2. The FFWC disseminates its flood warnings by e-mail, text messages, fax, and its own dedicated website. Without data from JASON-2, however, these warnings could be issued only 3-5 days in advance of an impending flood. 

At this stage FFWC is technologically and logistically confident and willing to share the knowledge and skill it has acquired to other south and southeast Asian countries to enhance their capacity for flood early warning. Because flooding is a shared problem for countries in the same basin or climate, a shared vision to manage floods together by sharing experience and training is essential for a better and more flood-safe world. In this project, stakeholder agencies with flood management responsibilities in their countries will learn about FFWC operations for flood warning generation and dissemination. The U.S. Government-supported partner will lead a special training and outreach session on the value of multi-satellite platforms to improve river modeling, hydrologic modeling, and flood forecasting in situations where ground data are limited or missing entirely. Through this training, the agencies will learn about ways to build a tailored system for beneficiaries in their own countries. They will be able to decide collaboratively how satellite data can be implemented for their water resource management.  

4-85 Field Visit 14-85 Field Visit 24-85 Inaugural Session
Dr. Masud leads the first training workshop in July 2016, which included hands-on exercises in the field, as well as group discussions and presentations (photo courtesy of Dr. Masud).

Summary of Recent Activities

Three professionals from BWDB visited the University of Washington November 13-29, 2017, for a custom-tailored training program on Satellite-Assisted Flood Forecasting Systems organized and led by U.S. partner Dr. Faisal Hossain. Four of Dr. Hossain’s PhD students also took part as student trainers. The BWDB visitors included Dr. Robin Kumar Biswas (executive engineer), Mr. Sarder Udoy Raihan (sub-divisional engineer), and Mr. Sajal Kumar Roy (assistant engineer). The training focused on three elements: (1) Sentinel-1 flood inundation mapping with the help of Google Earth Engine; (2) utilization of a bias-corrected Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP)-based rainfall forecasting application for extended flood forecasting for Bangladesh; and (3) expansion of virtual stations for satellite altimetry-assisted flood forecasting.

After returning home to Dhaka, the trainees have applied their new skills in their day-to-day work and conducted interactive discussion sessions with BWDB officials and staff to introduce the knowledge they acquired. Before the PEER project is completed at the end of June 2018, they will compile a training manual on satellite-based flood forecasting systems, using as a basis the detailed instructional materials and guidelines developed and provided by their U.S. partner Dr. Hossain. In addition, they will serve as lead trainers in a two-week training workshop to be held at BWDB’s Flood Forecasting and Warning Center. The PI and colleagues also plan to visit potential new collaborators in the Mekong Basin region to discuss how they might work together on common problems and offer BWDB to serve as a regional training hub. In the longer term, the PI, trainees, and other colleagues at BWDB aim to continue improving approaches to flood forecasting, develop new basin models for other parts of Bangladesh (e.g., the Meghna and Teesta basin), develop a forecasting system in the North-East region with the help of NWP data through hydrological models, and prepare flood inundation and flood hazard maps for various regions of Bangladesh.

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