Assessing the 2022 Flood Impacts in Queensland Combining Daytime and Nighttime Optical and Imaging Radar Data

Noam Levin*, Stuart Phinn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In the Australian summer season of 2022, exceptional rainfall events occurred in Southeast Queensland and parts of New South Wales, leading to extensive flooding of rural and urban areas. Here, we map the extent of flooding in the city of Brisbane and evaluate the change in electricity usage as a proxy for flood impact using VIIRS nighttime brightness imagery. Scanning a wide range of possible sensors, we used pre-flood and peak-flood PlanetScope imagery to map the inundated areas, using a new spectral index we developed, the Normalized Difference Inundation Index (NDII), which is based on changes in the NIR reflectance due to sediment-laden flood waters. We compared the Capella-Space X-band/HH imaging radar data captured at peak-flood date to the PlanetScope-derived mapping of the inundated areas. We found that in the Capella-Space image, significant flooded areas identified in PlanetScope imagery were omitted. These omission errors may be partly explained by the use of a single-date radar image, by the X-band, which is partly scattered by tree canopy, and by the SAR look angle under which flooded streets may be blocked from the view of the satellite. Using VIIRS nightly imagery, we were able to identify grid cells where electricity usage was impacted due to the floods. These changes in nighttime brightness matched both the inundated areas mapped via PlanetScope data as well as areas corresponding with decreased electricity loads reported by the regional electricity supplier. Altogether we demonstrate that using a variety of optical and radar sensors, as well as nighttime and daytime sensors, enable us to overcome data gaps and better understand the impact of flood events. We also emphasize the importance of high temporal revisit times (at least twice daily) to more accurately monitor flood events.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number5009
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • PlanetScope
  • electricity
  • floods
  • nighttime lights


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