Satellite Imagery show Japan’s Recovery Following the 2011 Disaster

On March 11th 2011 at 2:46pm local time, nearly 5 years ago now, an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 occurred off the NE coast of Japan, known as the Tohoku earthquake. This was the largest ever earthquake to hit Japan, and triggered a devastating tsunami, which rose to over 30ft high. The impacts of this event were devastating, costing as much as £218 billion and killing more than 15,000 people, with many more being displaced from their homes.

However, despite this, the past 5 years have perfectly demonstrated the resilience of the Japanese people. Recent high resolution imagery published by Google has revealed the large-scale rebuilding efforts which have taken place in some of the most devastated areas along the coast, including Iwate prefecture and Miyagi prefecture.

The Telegraph have put the imagery into a time-lapse showing the recovery efforts which have taken place over the past 5 years. It is truly impressive to see how humans can bounce back after such a devastating event, especially when the evidence is observable from space. Houses and business have repopulated the impacted area, bringing interest back into a previously abandoned area. Earthquakes occur all the time in Japan, so they cannot afford to let each event alter the way they live their lives.

The indigenous people have gathered to form an opposition to this movement, using satellite imagery as their evidence. The area of San Martin lost 24,300 hectares of forest between 2010 and 2014, and the total loss in Peru was larger than the state of Rhode Island in the US, deemed unacceptable by the local population.

Google have also revisited the area with their ‘Google Streetview’ car, so that the recovery and change since the earthquake can be seen as if we were there ourselves! More information on this can be seen in the Google blog.

Change detection over time is one of the main applications of satellite imagery and cannot only track changes before and after a disaster, but can be used to track changes before and after almost anything – from seasonal changes through to decadal changes in the land. Satellite imagery is truly amazing for applications like this, and at Geocento we can provide you with the best data available to do these types of analysis, just contact us for more information.



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