Posted on December 7th, 2021

Our Changing Landscape – Flooding in Shanxi Province

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with a time series of medium-resolution PlanetScope satellite imagery. The PlanetScope constellation dates back to 2016 and collects hundreds of millions of square kilometers of 4, 5 and 8-band 3-meter imagery daily! Last month we checked out the destruction caused by one of the USA’s most powerful recorded hurricanes, and for this December edition of Our Changing Landscape we travel to Asia with a look at massive flooding in China’s Shanxi province.

The PlanetScope Microsat Constellation

PlanetScope is a constellation of more than 150 microsats referred to individually as Doves. Each Dove is able to collect up to 20,000 square kilometers (sq km) per day of 3-meter (m) 4-band multispectral (i.e. blue, green, red and near-infrared [NIR]) imagery; and newly launched SuperDoves collect 8-band multispectral adding in valuable red-edge spectral data. Across the constellation, PlanetScope is archiving more than 200 million sq km of medium-resolution imagery a day, making it the go to source for daily imagery over most locations. This massive archive dates back to 2016, offering the most complete and continuous record of spatial data on the planet since the start of the constellation’s ongoing launch schedule. Collecting 3-meter multispectral imagery is the equivalent of ‘high-resolution’ multispectral data imaged by a 75-centimer (cm) satellite (as this satellite would feature 75-cm panchromatic and 3-m multispectral), making PlanetScope an extremely competitively priced option at just $1.80 per sq km. With well registered images and nearly daily collections of most locations, PlanetScope is the ideal imagery source for this current-events focused series, Our Changing Landscape.

Click on the image above to see an animation of 3-meter natural color PlanetScope imagery collected over Beiguang in Shanxi Province, China on October 1 and 11, 2021. And unfortunately, as has been the case for many of our animations looking at flooding, the extent of the damage caused by these torrential rains in early October is not apparent. There are a few flooded fields in the north-east quadrant of the October 11th image but otherwise we see little change between the two dates. (Images Courtesy: © Planet 2021)

Flooding in Shanxi Province, China Impacts Nearly 2 Million

In early October 2021, Taiyuan which is the capital of the northern Shanxi province in China recorded about 7.3 inches (186 millimeters) of rain compared to an average of 1 inch (25 millimeters) during that same time period. These torrential rains combined with the already saturated Yellow River led to massive flooding across the province which affected some 1.76 million residents. At least 15 people died in the floods, 120,000 were relocated, and nearly 40,000 homes were damaged. The floods and rainfall were also responsible for some $750 million in direct economic lose as 60 coal mines had to be closed – which also led to an electricity shortage in the region.One of the hardest hit regions of Shanxi was Beiguang Village where residents built a sand-bag dike to protect a railway. While it is always a challenge to locate smaller villages in China using the free mapping tools on the web, we believe the 3-meter PlanetScope imagery featured here is from Beiguang Village and the surrounding region – now, let’s see what the data can show us.

If you would like to find out more about using 3-meter PlanetScope imagery for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at [email protected] or (303) 993-3863.

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