Leveraging geospatial technologies for flood management and disaster assessment in the Lower Mekong River Basin
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The sixty million inhabitants of the Lower Mekong River Basin (LMB) in Southeast Asia rely on the natural resources provided by the Mekong River and its annual flooding. Extreme events, however, can cause widespread agricultural, structural, and humanitarian loss across the basin. Population increases, land use change, hydropower development, and climate change threaten to increase flood risk and potential damage over the next century. Geospatial technologies such as satellite remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) provide powerful tools for assessing historic risk and monitoring real-time events. In this thesis, I first assess trends in flood magnitude and timing over the last 90 years using stream gauge data to understand changes in the annual flooding of the river and associated risk. Next, I develop methods for using satellite data to map flood extent and relative degree, as well as assess risk to agriculture from both floods and droughts based on historic conditions. Lastly, I demonstrate how the satellite-derived flood maps can be integrated with socio-economic data in automated GIS tools to provide timely and reliable estimates of socio-economic damage during disasters.