Ian Howat, a glaciologist at the Ohio State’s Byrd Polar and Climate Research center will be using satellite imagery to help relief efforts after the devastating earth quake in Nepal. Combining this imagery and map building software Howat and other researchers can see how landscapes change in real time.
For example, they can map building and slope collapses to potentially help search and rescue teams concentrate on areas with the where the most damage occurred.
For years these researchers have been collecting image data of Arctic ice to study changes in polar landscapes. Similar data could be used to help predict at-risk areas—like areas near damns that might be at risk for flooding or areas where significant changes t the Himalayas have taken place. Unstable slopes could be identified and at-risk villages could be evacuated or relocated.
The researchers were granted intimidate access to the Oakley Cluster supercomputer at the Ohio Supercomputer Center due to the emergency, while normally researchers have to apply for grants. The Oakley Cluster was able to crunch the data in a few days, something a standard desktop computer could never hope to accomplish in a reasonable amount of time.
A United Nations relief group has used the maps to identify potentially troubled areas across Nepal.