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Greeks get space-based help in wake of deadly fires
Date:9/21/2007

Cleanup and rebuilding teams responding to the devastation across Greece caused by this summers deadly fires are getting help from space. A series of crisis map products based on satellite acquisitions of affected areas are being provided to aid damage assessment efforts following the activation of the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters.

More than 60 people were killed and thousands left homeless in the worst forest fires to hit Greece in decades. According to data from ESAs ERS-2 and Envisat satellites, which continuously survey fires burning across the Earths surface with onboard sensors, Greece experienced more wildfire activity this August than other European countries experienced over the last decade.

In an effort to aid authorities responding to disasters such as this, ESA and other national space agencies established the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters in 2000 to provide rush access to a broad range of satellite data.

The Charter, activated by the Department of Emergency Planning and Response of the Greek Civil Protection Agency, processed this request and recruited the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and the Strasbourg-based rapid mapping specialist company (SERTIT) to produce the maps using satellite images provided by the space agencies.

As a result, the Greek Civil Protection Agency received a series of Earth Observation (EO)-based crisis/damage mapping products generated using a variety of EO sensors. The first EO-based maps, delivered while the fires were still active, were overview products based on the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) instrument aboard ESAs Envisat satellite. French and German Civil Protections active in Greece to support fire fighting teams also received the maps.

These maps were used for fighting active fires across Greece, particularly those in the region of the Parnonas Mountains, which rise to almost 2000 metres on the eastern side of
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Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
mariangela.dacunto@esa.int
39-069-418-0856
European Space Agency
Source:Eurekalert

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