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Posted on January 7th, 2014

Our Changing Landscape – Typhoon Haiyan

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with time series of medium resolution RapidEye satellite imagery. The RapidEye archive dates back to late 2008 and already contains more than 4 billion square kilometers of data. This month, we look at the disaster left in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan over Tacloban, Philippines.

The RapidEye Constellation

Click on the image above to see an animation of 5-meter natural color RapidEye imagery collected over Tacloban, Philippines before (6/30/2012) and after (11/11 and 11/30/2013) Typhoon Haiyan. In this image, you can see destruction to both human-made structures and the natural environment. (Images Courtesy: RapidEye)

Now click on the image above to see an animation of 5-meter RapidEye imagery from the coast of Tacloban. In these images, you can see that a huge area of human-made structures were destroyed. And then you can also see the recovery being staged in the November 30th image. (Images Courtesy: RapidEye)

RapidEye is a constellation of five 5-meter medium resolution satellites each offering five spectral bands of information. The RapidEye constellation offers a daily revisit time to every location on the planet with a huge footprint that is 77-km wide. The data is priced competitively with a base price of $1.28 per square kilometer for all five spectral bands – academics do receive discounts. RapidEye adds a fifth band, the red edge, to the ‘traditional’ multispectral set of blue, green, red and near-infrared (NIR). The additional spectral data available in the red edge band allows users to extract more useful land ‘information’ than can be from traditional 4-band imagery sources. When RapidEye imagery is ordered as a Level 3A Orthorectified product, images from multiple dates are extremely well registered, making it the ideal data source for Our Changing Landscape.

Typhoon Haiyan

In last month’s newsletter, we featured 70-cm black and white EROS B images of the destruction left by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban; and this month, we take a more regional view of the destruction with 5-meter color RapidEye images. As of December 13th, the Haiyan death toll stood at 6,009 in the Philippines alone, with 1,779 still missing and some 16 million with flattened or damaged homes. Insurance companies are estimated to make $1.5 billion in payments for damaged Pilipino homes and infrastructure. And the government estimates that the clean up from Haiyan will take more than three years.

The RapidEye images featured here were collected in 2012 and then just after the typhoon in November. They are a bit cloudier than we would like to feature but sometimes you have to work with what is available after a disaster such as this. If you would like to donate to the relief effort, you can do so here (select Typhoon Haiyan relief in the program pull-down menu).

If you would like to find out more about using RapidEye for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at or (303) 993-3863.

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