Earth Observation to Address Inequities in Post-Flood Recovery

H. K. Friedrich, B. Tellman, J. A. Sullivan, A. Saunders, A. A. Zuniga-Teran, L. A. Bakkensen, M. Cawley, M. Dolk, R. A. Emberson, S. A. Forrest, N. Gupta, N. Gyawali, C. A. Hall, A. J. Kettner, J. L.Sanchez Lozano, G. B. Bola

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


Floods impact communities worldwide, resulting in loss of life, damaged infrastructure and natural assets, and threatened livelihoods. Climate change and urban development in flood-prone areas will continue to worsen flood-related losses, increasing the urgency for effective tools to monitor recovery. Many Earth Observation (EO) applications exist for flood-hazard monitoring and provide insights on location, timing, and extent in near real-time and historically to estimate flood risk. Less attention has been paid to flood recovery, even though differing recovery rates and outcomes can have immediate and enduring distributional effects within communities. EO data are uniquely positioned to monitor post-flood recovery and inform policy on hazard mitigation and adaptation but remain underutilized. We encourage the EO and flood research community to refocus on developing flood recovery applications to address growing risk. Translation of EO insights on flood recovery among flood-affected communities and decision-makers is necessary to address underlying social vulnerabilities that exacerbate inequitable recovery outcomes and advocate for redressing injustices where disparate recovery is observed. We identify an unequivocal need for EO to move beyond mapping flood hazard and exposure toward post-flood recovery monitoring to inform recovery across geographic contexts. This commentary proposes a framework for remote sensing scientists to engage community-based partners to integrate EO with non-EO data to advance flood recovery monitoring, characterize inequitable recovery, redistribute resources to mitigate inequities, and support risk reduction of future floods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2023EF003606
JournalEarth's Future
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • earth observation
  • evidence-based data
  • monitoring
  • post-flood recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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