Skip to main content

Article Category


Article available in the folowing languages:

European Commission's satellite analysis supporting international Tsunami information gathering efforts

Since the earthquake of 26 December in Indian Ocean and subsequent devastating tsunami, the European Commission has been working closely with international and European organisations to use satellite analysis to measure the immediate extent and impact of the disaster.

These regional, national and in-country analyses are being used to support international aid efforts, including today's donor pledging conference in Geneva, and the Jakarta international donor conference on 6 January. Extensive use has been made of satellite imagery, notably in the context of the activation of the International Chart on Space and Major Disasters. The immediate response by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre has consisted of: * Analysis of regional maps depicting Tsunami flooded zones, affected population and natural resources. A preliminary estimate of the inundation zone was produced by calculating the area of less than 10m and 20m elevation contour lines within 5km of the coastline for the entire region. This information was cross-checked with global population density data to estimate the likely population affected. Regional land cover maps were used to estimate impact on natural resources. * Analysis of country maps depicting affected population & infra-structure. DG JRC acquired information and data through open sources to produce thematic country scale maps depicting affected population, infra-structure and natural resources. Additional geo-political and other relevant information is now being integrated while similar maps for other affected zones will either be created or integrated from other sources. * Analysis of in-country maps depicting damage analysis/assessments for specific Tsunami affected zones. Together with various agencies (United Nations Agencies; European Space Agency; national agencies (e.g. German Space Agency - DLR); RESPOND-GMES; SPOT-Image; EURIMAGE; NASA satellite data providers and space companies) and pictures as close as 1 meter or less to the land, it has been possible to prepare damage analysis/assessments for disaster affected zones. Follow up action Work will continue on damage and situation analysis/assessments over the region. A comprehensive Tsunami information system will be maintained by DG JRC to assist EU operations. An assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of European and international mapping and satellite-based efforts to be deployed in such situations will also be made. For further information please visit the following websites:,


Natural disasters