Posted on October 4th, 2022

Our Changing Landscape – July 2022 Historic Flooding in Kentucky

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 four, five and eight-band 3-meter imagery daily! Last month we checked out a landslide in a rural Peruvian mountain town, and for this October edition of Our Changing Landscape we head to eastern Kentucky here in the United States which saw historic flooding in late July.

Click on the image above to see an animation of 3-meter natural color PlanetScope imagery collected close to Garrett, Kentucky on July 23 and August 3, 2022. If you are a regular reader of this series, you might know that we strike out sometimes; and well this month was mostly a strike out. We had expected to see significant swelling in the rivers here given the damage in Garrett but that was not the case. But if you look at the lake (probably an old quarry) in the southeast, you can see it fills significantly in the week plus timeline covered here, so it is obvious this area received a bunch of rain in a short time even if it was not detectable in the river corridors we inspected. Regardless, we hope for the best as the region recovers from these historic floods. (Images Courtesy: © Planet 2022)

The PlanetScope Microsat Constellation

PlanetScope is a constellation of more than 240 microsats (as of January 2022) 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.

Historic Flooding in Eastern Kentucky July 25 to July 30, 2022

Fueled by global climate change which boosts atmospheric moisture as average temperatures increase, and colliding with the local cultural and geographic landscape of Appalachia, eastern Kentucky experienced flash flooding in late July 2022 which was the worst it had seen in decades. Estimates based on radar data suggests that some 6 to 14 inches (15 to 36 centimeters) of rain fell on the region from July 25th to July 30th, much of it the night of July 27th into the morning of July 28th, triggering massive flooding along the various branches of the Kentucky River. The North Fork set a new record, cresting at 43.47 feet (13.25 meters). At the time of drafting this article, at least 37 were killed in the tragedy, hundreds will lose their homes and, in all, the flooding is expected to cause more than $1 billion in damage. What is even more scary is that climate change is expected to increase loses to flooding by 26% by 2050. Now it is time to turn to the 3-meter PlanetScope archive to assess the extent of the damage around Garrett, Kentucky, one of the harder hit towns in the Kentucky River basin.

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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