In the course of the last two weeks the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS) was activated several times for floods in the Rhine and Maas basins. In a series of four activations, the emergency satellite mapping service produced up to date maps of the affected areas in Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium and ultimately the Netherlands. These maps are made available to local authorities and support organisations to prepare for, manage and mitigate the effects of these devastating events.
On 9 and 10 July, flood forecasts by the European Flood Awareness System (EFAS) of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service indicated a high probability of flooding for the Rhine River basin, affecting Switzerland and Germany.
Subsequent forecasts also indicated a high risk of flooding for the Meuse River basin, affecting Belgium. The magnitude of the floods forecasted for the Rhine River basin increased significantly in this period. The first EFAS warnings were sent to the relevant national authorities starting on 10 July and, with the continuously updated forecasts, more than 25 warnings were sent for specific regions of the Rhine and Meuse River basins in the following days until 14 July.
Figure: EFAS flood forecast from 12.07.2021 00:00 UTC
Providing early and current maps of flooded areas
On 13 July, the CEMS Rapid Mapping component was activated to map the ongoing floods in parts of Western Germany (EMSR517 Mapping Website , EMSR517 Activation Viewer). As a flood peak was foreseen on 16 July for segments of other rivers, CEMS preemptively acquired satellite images of the vulnerable area through Pre-Tasking on 14 July. These early images informed ensuing activations by the CEMS Rapid Mapping component based on the EFAS forecasts for areas in Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and France.
In Germany, the extension of the floods in six areas is currently being analysed in the south-east of the country: Moselle, Ahr, Pruem and Kyll rivers. The German authorised user has asked CEMS to monitor other towns and rivers reported as already affected or at very high risk. These include the towns of Hagen, Altena, Erkrath und Düsseldorf, and areas along the rivers Düssel/Nördliche Düssel, Rur, Erft, Agger and Sieg.
A first flood map was produced on 14 July over the Rhine River, based on a satellite image acquired on the same day, but in which no impact of flooding was detected. Additional products were delivered on 16 July (based on a satellite image acquired on the 15th) showing substantial flooding. Monitoring products will follow up on the 16th. Increased areal visibility from weather conditions will allow acquisitions of optical imagery to be attempted for the 17th. These images will be used to perform a damage assessment.
Figure: EMSR517 Duisburg Delineation Map
Monitoring worsening floods in Belgium
In Belgium, they are around the towns of Liège and Rochefort (north-east of the country) are being monitored. CEMS flood delineation products were delivered on 15 and 16 July, showing the extent and location of the flooding along the Meuse River. 1583ha (15.83 km2) of flooded area was detected on the satellite image (acquired on the 15th of July), located mostly in the surroundings of the towns of Maastricht, Maaseik, Rochefort and Durbuy. Monitoring products will follow up on the 16th. Considering the improvement of the weather, optical acquisitions will be attempted on the 17th in order to produce damage assessments.
Figure: EMSR518 Rochefort Delineation Map
Rapid Mapping activated for Floods in Switzerland
The first map is expected to be delivered on 16 July.
Rapid Mapping activated for Floods in the Netherlands
The Dutch authorities requested the activation of the CEMS Rapid Mapping component on 16 July for the area around and north of Maastricht to analyse the Meuse River basin (basin (EMSR520 Mapping Website , EMSR520 Activation Viewer)
The first maps were delivered on 16 and 17 July, at the peak of the event.
The maps and vector data are available for viewing and download on the Copernicus EMS Website:
For updates on our activations, follow Copernicus EMS on Twitter.