Quantifying the Past and Current Major Australian Floods with SAR and Other Satellites

Flooding is a common and extremely impactful event within Australia and around the world. For example, the March 2021 Australian floods are a series of floods that began from 18 March 2021 which have affected New South Wales, from the North Coast to the Sydney metropolitan area in the south, in a disaster described as a “one-in-100-year event”. Additionally, far-south and far-southeast communities in Queensland were also greatly affected by flooding and heavy rainfall.

The aim of this project is to develop and operationalise smart analysis of SAR and optical satellite imagery (primarily NovaSAR and Sentinel missions) to address time-critical applications such as flood mapping (2D) and floodplain water harvesting (3D), based on many years of research in this area by the project team since 2009. Project activities include feasibility studies, remote sensing software
development (analytic toolbox) and extensive case studies.

The expected outcomes are:

  1. A suite of near real-time, cross platform, scalable and operational tools for mapping floods with satellite remote sensing, ready for flood management agencies to takeover and/or private sector to commercialise, and improve volume estimate during the floodplain harvesting event for the Murray-Darling Basin states;
  2. A comprehensive report on feasibility studies to inform a Phase 2 project; and
  3. A comprehensive report on the case studies, targeting a range of users and promoting SmartSat CRC research through the mass media. The project brings together core partners such as UNSW, NSW Department of Planning and Environment, and Geoplex / Nova Systems, an ideal mix of academia, end user and geospatial service provider. The proposed project has also attracted strong support from the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE) because of its significant national benefits (Letter of Support attached), as well as other key players such as Airbus and Geospatial Intelligence Pty Ltd.


Project Leader:
Linlin Ge, University of New South Wales