Sunday, February 15, 2015

Lidar and Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina imposed the inundation of New Orleans, LA, and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology was helpful in studying the effects of the natural disaster. Specifically, light detection and ranging (lidar) remote sensing is used as mapping technology in low-relief hurricane-prone coastal areas - like New Orleans. With a hurricane, elevation data is arguably the most important and most useful data that can be studied and utilized. Lidar is a standard survey tool that is used by the mapping industry to collect data. It collects very detailed, high-precision measurements of land-surface elevations. The National Elevation Database (NED) has recently been worked with by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as it has collected lidar elevation data and incorporated it into the NED. High-resolution lidar-derived elevation data for southeastern Louisiana - including the New Orleans area - was already integrated into the NED, so when Hurricane Katrina hit, the data was available for response to the disaster.

The high-resolution data for southwestern Louisiana (New Orleans) was available online, and thus proved to be a valuable asset for geospatial data users that were responding to the aftermath of the disaster. The lidar-derived elevation data helped tremendously in creating a rough mapping of the depth and extent of the inundation created by Katrina. In the future, by combining the precise elevation information from lidar with accurate ground-based water-level information and inundation delineations derived from remote sensing, a complete history of flooding and water removal can be reconstructed.

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 information could be used to find weak spots that are particularly vulnerable to flooding/destruction in the past and reconstruct the damage accordingly. The city could then be able to detect the vulnerable spots and provide this information to people living there. With this information readily available, the human casualties can then be decreased.

  2. Similar to our Lab over Katrina flooding although this shows a depth range and adds a better representation, rather than using just a cholorpleth map it shows depth of buildings and walls.

  3. I did this same one and used the same information you provided. I find it interesting how spot on LSU's Lidar technology had the ability to map the Mississippi so accurately.