RUS Remote Training on Disasters Management: Assessment of Floods and Burned Areas

UN-SPIDER, ESA and CEU are organizing a 2-day remote RUS Copernicus training on Disaster Management. UN-SPIDER is the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response, implemented by the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). UNOOSA works to help all countries, especially developing countries, access and leverage the benefits of space to accelerate sustainable development. Since 2006, UN-SPIDER assists member states in getting access to space-based tools and data that can be used by disaster managers. UN-SPIDER has organized and facilitated capacity building events in numerous countries, mainly developing countries (see

Central European University (CEU) is an undergraduate- and graduate-level university accredited in Austria, Hungary, and the United States, with campuses in Vienna and Budapest. CEU offers English-language bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs in social and environmental sciences, humanities, law, management and public policy. The CEU’s Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy ( is an international center of excellence in interdisciplinary research and teaching, offering education to future professionals and academics from around Europe and the world, engaging with networks of scholars and practitioners worldwide.

Please note that the RUS Copernicus Virtual Machines used for this training course can only be provided to citizens/residents of the Copernicus programme member countries (EU plus Iceland and Norway). 

Selected students from other universities can attend the workshop in viewing mode.


Natural disasters have affected humankind in all times. However, the frequency and intensity of disasters are drastically increasing, mostly under the influence of climate change. The number of disasters and economic losses have almost doubled in the past twenty years, including an ascending number of people have died or were affected in some ways . The number of disasters with the greatest increases are floods, storms and wildfires.

Remote sensing is an ideal tool to monitor disasters and plan disaster management efforts. Earth observation satellites help to assess the affected areas by a disaster but also provide invaluable data to prevent disasters from taking place. Maps derived from satellite images can for example quickly show how much of a flooded or burned area is affected, the infrastructure and people that were hit and where measures should be taken to assist the affected communities.

RUS Exercises

Burned Area Assessment with Sentinel-2

In recent years there has been a global increase in wildfires, triggered by adverse weather conditions and human activity, or combination of both. Such events affected regions in Europe in 2021 as well, causing extreme long-term damage to the environment, wildlife, flora and property. One of these cases is Greece, experiencing the worst heatwave since 1987, facing the worst fires since 2007. 

Optical remote sensing provides accurate and rapid information about burned areas and their extent, that can be detected and assessed by performing a post-event analysis. The information obtained is fundamental to support fire management, carry out risk assessments of affected and surrounding areas, define planning strategies and monitor the restoration of vegetation.

We will demonstrate the burned area mapping methodology on the disastrous wildfires that occurred in the northern area of the Evia Island in Greece in August 2021 and you will learn the basics of image processing using various vegetation indexes and specific band ratios such as the Normalized Burn Ratio (NBR). The Sentinel-2 MSI data that will be used with 10m spatial resolution will help us assess the severity of this disastrous event.

Flood Mapping with Sentinel-1

Disastrous storms hit Northern European countries this summer between 12-15th of July 2021, with hundreds of casualties and missing people in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Some of the affected regions had not recorded rainfalls of such magnitude in the last 1000 years. Only in Germany, more than 184 people died due to severe flooding. One of the worst affected regions in Germany were located in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia with water levels rising along the Rhine River.

Satellite images provided by the Copernicus Sentinel satellites allow to accurately delineate the area and access the extent of a flood which can be used for damage assessment. As they do not depend on solar illumination or on weather conditions, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems are quite relevant to monitor emergencies and more particularly floods. Moreover, thanks to its capacity to collect large amounts of data made freely available, Sentinel-1 is quite a valuable tool for flood mapping.

We will demonstrate the flood mapping methodology on the disastrous event that occurred in June 2021 causing flooding of the Rhine River in the areas close to Wesel (north of Duisburg). In this training you will learn the basics of the image processing and mapping the areas where such natural disasters happened. The open source tools (ESA SNAP and QGIS) will be used to process Sentinel-1 GRD products and map flooded areas. SNAP Graph Processing Tool (GPT) will be implemented to present the possibility of more efficient data processing, where the steps can be automated.


Thursday 18 November 2021 (10:00-14:00 CET)

1.5 hour demonstration, 2 hours repetition from the participants together with teachers assisting real time, plus live Q&A session

Friday 19 November 2021 (10:00-14:00 CET) 

1.5 hour demonstration, 2 hours repetition from the participants together with teachers assisting real time, plus live Q&A session

More details coming soon!

Audience and Equipment

This training is intended for students enrolled in a Master´s programme (M.Sc. or M.A.). Students should have interests in the potential of remote sensing techniques for disaster management. Basic knowledge GIS/remote sensing is required and experience working with GIS is desirable.

Due to organizational restrictions, maximum 25 students attending courses at European Universities will be provided with access to the RUS platform Virtual Machines, working on their own laptop. Other students can attend the course and follow the demonstrations.


Online training 

For more Information please click here 

Training date

Thursday 18th of November 2021 - Friday 19th of November 2021

Application opening - closing

Friday 1st of October 2021 - Wednesday 13th of October 2021
Application is closed


Ewelina Dobrowolska / Serco Italia S.p.A

Georgia Karadimou / Serco Italia S.p.A

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