Dozens of landslides after the 2018 Hokkaido earthquake

An earthquake with magnitude 6.7 occurred on 06 Sep 2018 in Hokkaido, Japan, killing at least 17 people and leaving nearly 3 million households in Hokkaido without electricity.
The quake came two days after typhoon Jebi, "the strongest storm of 25 years".
Below is an image comparison near Atsuma dam lake in the south of Hokkaido, before and after the earthquake, showing multiple landslides in the forest areas. Both images were acquired by Sentinel-2 and are shown as false color composites of bands 11-8-2. Click here to view a larger version.

The heavy rainfalls brought by typhoon Jebi probably explain why the earthquake triggered so many landslides. I would like to count the landslides in this area, but the Sep 15 image is not yet available in my favorite image processing engine. I will check later.

- in the AGU landslide blog
- Google published a crisis map but it seems that the imagery is not publicly available
Thanks to Laurent Longuevergne for letting me know about this!

Sentinel-2 captured a jökulhlaup in Afghanistan

In the Landslide blog Dave Petley has analyzed Planet images of the Pashgor debris flow in Afghanistan (here and here). Here I used two Sentinel-2 images (before and after the event) to show the path of the debris flow from the high mountain area to the Panjshir Valley. Sentinel-2 images have a lower spatial resolution than Planet images but they have a larger swath and the near-infrared channel is useful to highlight the water-rich surfaces (dark blue) and the vegetation (red). Also, Sentinel-2 images are free to use for everyone.

According to the experts this event can be called a jökulhlaup since it was due to the abrupt collapse of a supraglacial lake, i.e. a lake formed on the surface of a glacier, in this case a debris-covered glacier. The debris flow (a mix of water and debris) has traveled 13 km from the source to the deposit area where it has dammed the Panjshir river.

Whitewhashing the Plastic Sea near Almería

Almería province in Spain is "one of the most recognisable spots on the planet from the lens of a passing satellite. The roofs of tens of thousands of closely packed plastic greenhouses form a blanket of mirrored light beaming into space." (The Guardian).

True color image Sentinel-2 on 22 Aug 2018

Greenhouses in Almería are typically made with transparent plastic to increase the air temperature near the crops. This enables to boost the yield and to harvest earlier than in open field. However, in summer, the temperature increases too much and must be reduced to maintain more suitable conditions for plant growth. Natural ventilation is generally not sufficient to evacuate the heat during sunny days. Therefore, the farmers cover the roofs of the greenhouses with white painting to reduce the incoming solar radiation (Baille et al. 2001). This operation is called blanqueo in Spanish.

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Les conséquences de la sécheresse de l'an dernier en Provence sont toujours visibles en 2018 sur les images de Sentinel-2


En rentrant de nos vacances dans les Alpes, nous avons passé une journée près des gorges du Verdon, le grand Canyon européen (je sais, il y a une différence d'échelle avec l'Américain).  Ceci dit, le paysage était superbe, comme vous pouvez le voir dans le panorama ci-dessous.

Panorama depuis le "point sublime" (et modeste)



Mais ne vous inquiétez pas, je ne vais pas vous parler ici de mes aventures estivales, je réserve cela pour les collègues à l'heure du repas, et je pense que les deux premiers de la semaine leur ont suffi.


Allons au fait, j'ai par la même occasion remarqué un grand nombre de pins desséchés, voire morts, ce qui m'a étonné parce que la région a été relativement humide ce printemps et début d'été. J'ai demandé au gens du coin, qui m'ont dit que c'est la sécheresse de l'été et l'automne 2017 en Provence qui en est la cause, particulièrement dans les zones où la roche est juste sous la surface et la profondeur du sol est très faible..

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Sentinel-2 sees a persistent degradation of forests near the Gorges du Verdon, after 2017 drought


Coming back from our stay in the Alps, we stayed one day near the Verdon Gorges, the European Grand Canyon (I know there is a difference in scale with the American one). Anyway, the landscape was gorgeous as you can seen on the panorama below.

Panorama from "Sublime point" (and modest)



But don't worry, I will not tell you about all my holidays adventures, I keep that for my close colleagues at lunch time, and it seems they have had enough of it with the two past days.


Let's go to the point, I also noticed quite a number of brown pine trees, which surprised me as the spring and summer had been rather wet for the region so far. I asked some locals who told me it was due to the severed drought that happened last year in Provence, which happened during summer and fall 2017 and damaged mainly the pine forest, particularly where the soil root zone is thin due to the presence of rock.

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Snow conditions in southern Africa ski resorts

When I present the potential of Sentinel-2 for snow science, I often tell that the spatial resolution of Sentinel-2 is sufficient to detect snow at the scale of the ski runs. Because a picture is worth a thousand words, here is the Sentinel-2 view of the only two ski resorts in southern Africa on July 11.

Sentinel-2 true color composites on 11 July 2018

The snow on these ski slopes is artificial but this region can get quite a lot of snow!

NDVI time series in 2018 World Cup stadiums

The figure below shows the evolution of the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) in the pitches of all the 2018 World Cup stadiums.

NDVI in the piches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup stadiums. Data from Copernicus Sentinel-2.

NDVI in the 2018 FIFA World Cup stadiums

I retrieved these data from Sentinel-2 observations using the new time series plotter in the EO Browser. I just drew a polygon in each of the 12 stadiums to get the average NDVI values on every available cloud-free date.

Sentinel-2 NDVI on June 27 in Kaliningrad Stadium (Arena Baltika)

Arena Baltika

Time series of the NDVI in Arena Baltika from Sentinel-2 observations in the EO Browser

Because the NDVI is a proxy of the vegetation health (here the grass on the pitch), these charts allow us to identify which stadiums were built for the 2018 World Cup (Volgograd Arena, Cosmos Arena). On the other hand, the Fisht stadium in Sotchi looks well maintained since 2016. It "served as the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics (...) was originally built as an enclosed facility; it was re-opened in 2016" (wikipedia). Also it should be noted that the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg is a retractable roof stadium. "As of May 2017, the stadium was 518% late and 548% over budget (...) At a cost of $1.1 billion at current exchange rates, it is considered one of the most expensive stadiums ever built." (wikipedia). Hopefully the grass will remain green in the next months, unlike some stadiums in Brazil after the Olympics.
In the meantime, as you can see by yourself, the grass is blue in the Kazan Arena!

Color composite of the Kazan Arena on June 27, three days before the first encounters of the Round of 16 (France vs. Argentina)