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Understanding flood risk from space: opportunities to adapt to changing risk and catalyze climate justice with Elizabeth Tellman

October 13 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Elizabeth Tellman

School of Geography, Development and Environment

Arizona State University


Thursday, October 13, 2022

1:00p – 2:00p

MacNider Hall 321


Floods affect more people than any other hazard, and the frequency and magnitude of exposure is growing with demographic and climatic changes. Yet the ability to predict and monitor floods from local to global scales remains a challenge and limits access to financial protection for vulnerable populations. The increasing availability, frequency, and spatio-temporal resolution of satellite data provides new opportunities to monitor floods locally and globally. Advances in cloud computing and machine learning techniques enable increasingly accurate flood event monitoring by fusing observations from multiple sensors. I will show how these new methods and data can improve our ability to understand and adapt to flood risk from global to local scales. This talk will demonstrate how improved flood observations yield insight into where populations are moving into flood plains, inform decisions to relocate refugee camps, direct cash transfers for recovery, and underpin innovative index insurance schemes in Bangladesh. Despite the potential benefits of satellite flood data, unequal access to flood information could further exacerbate vulnerability for the most marginalized. How do we ensure these new technological and scientific advances reduce rather than deepen existing inequalities in who loses most when a flood hits? I’ll show how my lab members are working to leverage satellite based flood data to catalyze climate justice in the US from Lake Charles, Louisiana to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.



Beth is an Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona, in the School of Geography, Development, and Environment whose research addresses the causes and consequences of global environmental change on people, with a focus on access to water, flood risk, and land use change. She engages in multiple disciplines and methods to “socialize the pixel” or understand the social processes behind environmental change captured in satellite image pixels and leverage satellite data to improve human well-being. She is a co-founder and Chief Science Officer of Cloud to Street, a public benefit corporation that leverages remote sensing to build flood monitoring and mapping systems for low- and middle-income countries. Her global flood mapping work was recently featured on the cover of Nature. To learn more about her publications and projects see:


October 13
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm