Sunday, September 14, 2014

GIS Tool, LIDAR, Helps Responders See Flood Levels in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

According to Dean Gesch, a government research physical scientist, a new remote-sensing technology called LIDAR, which is an acronym for light detection and ranging, proved itself worthy in 2005 when in New Orleans, hurricane Katrina struck. There was a lack of aerial photo data available to judge the flood levels, so LIDAR, which uses light to show data about elevation, was called upon to display elevation information. This would later come into play when responders had to figure out levels of flooding in different areas of town. This elevation data gathered with LIDAR was paired with measurements taken from a lake-level flood gauge. By the time the water was settled, LIDAR and the information from the flood gauge were combined and able to display an indication of what the flood volume looked like in different areas of New Orleans.
As you can imagine, this is very important information for responders to know so that they can appropriately distribute resources and know which areas are in urgent need of help. This is a real-world scenario about how GIS tools such as LIDAR can be more important in our lives than just being some “complicated technology” that nobody wants to pay attention to or take the time to learn. Also, this gives way to the fact that if more people were working in this industry and keeping data about human environments up to date, we could be better prepared to deal with natural disasters by being able to have more accurate representations of our environment and therefore understanding how to protect ourselves.

Works Cited

Gesch, D. (2005). Topography-based analysis of Hurricane Katrina inundation of New Orleans. Science and the storms: The USGS Response to the Hurricanes of.


  1. This article definitely presents a strong argument for the usefulness of GIS with regards to public safety. I'd like to see a side by side comparison of the map in this blog post and a map of the same area but with flood zone predictions made before hurricane Katrina. I think it would be interesting to see if the flood zones were as affected as they were predicted to be.

    1. I just saw that I have the same article as Sam. I'll try to give you what you want !

  2. The article I summarized discussed advantages of knowing elevations. In addition to just assessing flood damage, elevation data can improve highway systems, saving gas and improving safety; improve aviary navigation; enhance the use of chemicals used in farming by collection data about slope of the land, and much more.

  3. It's great to see GIS applied like this. One of my favorite things about GIS is it's applicability to so many different things.