- Last week's explosion in Beirut claimed over 200 lives, injured thousands, and caused billions of dollars worth of damage.
- NASA researchers—in partnership with colleagues from the Earth Observatory of Singapore—mapped the extent of the damage.
- The damage proxy maps can be used to focus aid efforts toward the most damaged regions.
Last week, an explosion rocked Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon. Over 200 people died and thousands were injured in the blast, which occurred after 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate detonated. The port city suffered billions of dollars in damage in the wake of the explosion and, according to UNICEF, hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless.
The explosion has spurred a series of protests and the resignation of a number of the country's leaders, including its prime minister. Now, the residents of Beirut—already struggling to control the coronavirus pandemic—are left to pick up the pieces. Satellite images of the region, like the video from MAXAR below, are beginning to reveal the true devastation of the blast.
Satellite 🛰 imagery of Beirut explosion 💥 pic.twitter.com/8noguEKYNu— Domenico (@AvatarDomy) August 7, 2020
NASA's Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team—along with the Earth Observatory of Singapore—compiled satellite-derived synthetic aperture radar data to map the damage.
Each pixel in the image represents an area of approximately 33 yards, with dark red pixels indicating where the damage was most severe and yellow pixels indicating where the least amount of damage occurred.
The ARIA team has constructed maps like this for other disasters. In the wake of the 2018 Palu earthquake, for example, NASA published a similar damage proxy map, which plotted the risk of landslides around the Indonesian city.
Researchers hope maps like these can help aid workers assess where to focus their efforts.
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