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Kenya-based satellite spots real-time impacts of climate change and extreme weather

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) oversees 75 per cent of Africa’s land area and scans for “factors affecting the environment, like forest fires, in areas where human surveillance cannot reach without the aid of aerial photography.”  Creative Commons: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (cropped), 2008

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) oversees 75 per cent of Africa’s land area and scans for “factors affecting the environment, like forest fires, in areas where human surveillance cannot reach without the aid of aerial photography.” Creative Commons: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (cropped), 2008

A new satellite is is capable of tracking real-time impacts of extreme weather and climate change on Africa from space, according to a recent report.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) oversees 75 per cent of Africa’s land area and scans for “factors affecting the environment, like forest fires, in areas where human surveillance cannot reach without the aid of aerial photography.” Based in Nairobi, the MODIS collects data from different observation satellites throughout the African continent, capable of capturing images with a 250-metre resolution.

Lead by the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), Tesfaye Korme, director for remote sensing, said:

“It enables the acquisition of direct data which can be processed into different products for a variety of applications, such as flood mapping, crop monitoring, fire assessment, water quality assessment and hailstorm prediction, among others.”

For some farmers, this new tool could help accelerate their insurance payout process. Currently, most insurance companies depend on data collected from distant weather stations.

“I have even signed up with a crop insurance scheme as a way of ensuring I do not suffer so much loss when the rains fail,” explained a farmer from Laikipia County, a village in central Kenya. “Sometimes I am compensated for the loss, but at other times I do not get a payout.”

This project was realized with the support of the Google Foundation.

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