The Dartmouth Flood Observatory (DFO) is a NASA-supported,
university-hosted research project that was established in 1995
by NASA grants from the Office of Earth Science at NASA Headquarters,
in Washington DC.
The Geography Department of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire provides office space, additional remote sensing and GIS laboratory facilities, and a strong computing and Information service infrastructure for DFO. These include major scientific and technical and map libraries, very high-speed external connections to the internet, high speed local area networks, and computer technical support personnel. NASA provides salary support, new equipment and software purchases, and modest amounts of travel funding for presentation of research results as scientific meetings.
The Dartmouth College computing system also hosts a major web site (search on "Dartmouth Flood Observatory") where many of the remote sensing and GIS results of observatory work are published. The site is public and free, and a wide variety of end-users have been identified. Among these are educational institutions, university researchers, national and local government agencies, international relief agencies, news agencies, and insurance companies.
The observatory director, Dr. G. Robert Brakenridge, holds B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in geosciences, is a Geological Society of America Fellow, and is Research Associate Professor within the Geography Department. His training is in the area of fluvial geomorphology and river processes. He is currently also a NASA-approved investigator on the Japanese ADEOS-2 satellite program, and was formerly a Visiting Senior Scientist and Program Manager at NASA Headquarters (in 1991-1992). He continues to serve on many NASA review and other panels.
The Observatory is a small group of research personnel who are engaged in the detection, mapping, measurement, and analysis of extreme flood events worldwide using satellite remote sensing. It provides yearly catalogs of large river floods, and is developing methods for obtaining globally consistent measurements of such events. DFO frequently produces the first geocoded image maps of extreme floods, and these and related GIS data layers may be downloaded in digital form from the observatory web site Among the resources used are the cloud-penetrating radar imagers aboard European Remote Sensing Satellites (ERS-1 and ERS-2), the Canadian-American Radarsat, NASA's AIRSAR/TOPSAR airborne sensor, Landsat-7, NOAA's AVHRR sensors, and MODIS and ASTER data from Terra. As part of the flood research work, DFO is also measuring some rivers and streams on a repeating basis: it is establishing "Flood Gaging Stations" at diverse locations world-wide and in order to provide more detailed and longer term record of river flooding at these locations. Sustained, high-resolution remote sensing monitoring is planned for river reaches within these station areas.