Remote sensing and GIS-based flood vulnerability assessment of human settlements: a case study of Gangetic West Bengal, India
Flooding due to excessive rainfall in a short period of time is a frequent hazard in the flood plains of monsoon Asia. In late September 2000, a devastating flood stuck Gangetic West Bengal, India. This particular event has been selected for this study. Instead of following the conventional approach of flooded area delineation and overall damage estimation, this paper seeks to identify the rural settlements that are vulnerable to floods of a given magnitude. Vulnerability of a rural settlement is perceived as a function of two factors: the presence of deep flood water in and around the settlement and its proximity to an elevated area for temporary shelter during an extreme hydrological event. Landsat ETM+ images acquired on 30 September 2000 have been used to identify the non-flooded areas within the flooded zone. Particular effort has been made to differentiate land from water under cloud shadow. ASTER digital elevation data have been used to assess accuracy and rectify the classified image. The presence of large numbers of trees around rural settlements made it particularly difficult to extract the flooded areas from their spectral signatures in the visible and infrared bands. ERS-1 synthetic aperture radar data are found particularly useful for extracting the settlement areas surrounded by trees. Finally, all information extracted from satellite imageries are imported into ArcGIS, and spatial analysis is carried out to identify the settlements vulnerable to river inundation. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.