ASTER Data Monitors Hurricane Sandy Damage

In the wake of Super Storm Sandy which devastated portions of the East Coast last week, NASA’s Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) team has assisted decision makers with access to high resolution NASA satellite data products for post disaster analysis and assessment. One example of the use of data from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument flown aboard NASA’s Terra satellite is shown here. ASTER provides a moderately high-resolution (15 meters) view of the region affected by Hurricane Sandy in a number of visible and infrared spectral channels. SPoRT has combined ASTER visible and near infrared channels to produce false color composites which differentiate vegetated surfaces from non-vegetated regions and can be used to identify damaged roads and homes in the region. Highly vegetated areas appear bright red in the images, while less vegetated areas containing roads and houses appear cyan or white and water is dark blue in color. Highlighted are ASTER RGB images from July 1, 2012 (before Sandy) and November 4, 2012 (after Sandy) for the coastal and barrier island region of Mantoloking, New Jersey. The insets provide an enhanced view of the breach in the barrier island as a result of the tidal surge from Sandy. The low altitude oblique aerial photos show before and after conditions of the bridge and roadway connecting the island to the mainland.

ASTER false color composite image for the coastal region of New Jersey near Mantoloking on July 1, 2012. This summertime “before Sandy” image highlights the bright sandy beaches and the densely populated resort community on the barrier island with highly vegetated (red) and marina area along the mainland coast.


Post Hurricane Sandy ASTER false color composite image for the same region in the above image on November 4, 2012. While the lower sun angle and seasonal reduction in growing vegetation limit the contrast in this image, the textural difference in barrier island region is striking, and the insert indicates where the barrier island was breached the storm surge.


Mantoloking bridge connecting the barrier island to the mainland before and after damage by Hurricane Sandy (courtesy of Associated Press).

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