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New aerial imagery – before and after Cyclone Gabrielle

5 April 2023
Cyclone Gabrielle left a trail of destruction in its wake as it swept through the Hawkes Bay area, and now with the power and accessibility of satellite imagery we have the ability to see it with our own eyes.

Members of the Scion Digital and Geospatial Intelligence Team led by Grant Pearse have used high resolution aerial imagery to zoom in on some of the hardest hit areas. To illustrate the scale of the disaster they have embedded a before and after slider providing an unprecedented insight into the devastation for those who didn’t experience it first-hand.

This imagery, made available by LINZ, is captured 10 cm pixel resolution making detail much more visible than satellite imagery.

Click to view.

Looking at the aerial imagery, it is clear to see that some of the worst affected areas are those closest to the coast or on hill country. Red spots on the map highlight some examples. Zoom out to find these and zoom in to compare before and after.

The use of high-resolution imagery and satellite technology to assess natural disasters is a relatively new development, but it is one that is proving to be incredibly valuable. By providing us with a spatial understanding of the damage caused by storms like Cyclone Gabrielle, we are better equipped to respond to these disasters and provide support to those affected. It could be used to direct emergency efforts more effectively, identify industry loss and recovery efforts and support insurance claims as a start point.

This work was possible due to the efforts from the team who are currently working on the Smart Forest Project which aims to create a digital twin of the productive forest estate in New Zealand at national scale. To learn more about this initiative, how to get involved and explore the prototype click here. This work has the potential to be foundational for Cyclone Gabrielle analysis and future planning and knowledge as the AI model could be redeployed to answer some of the critical questions around forest loss, slash volume, erosion and more.

Acknowledgements: Model development: Grant Pearse and Sam Davidson

Dataset creation/curation and GIS team: Melanie Palmer, Ben Steer, Samuel Wong, Elizaveta Graevskaya, Nicolò Camarretta, Atman Dhruva, and Angus Loader. With thanks to Land Information New Zealand for imagery and technical advice.


Scion Project Owner and Sponsor: Claire Stewart – New Value Digital Forests

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