Publication Date: 2020-04-27

Approval Date: 2019-11-22

Posted Date: 2019-09-09

Reference number of this document: OGC 19-058

Reference URL for this document:

Category: User Guide

Editor: Liping Di, Eugene Yu, Ziheng Sun, Li Lin, Md. Shahinoor Rahman, Chen Zhang, Robert Thomas, Terry Idol

Title: OGC Disasters Resilience Pilot User Guide: Rapid Assessment for Flood, Hurricane, and Agriculture Condition


Copyright © 2020 Open Geospatial Consortium. To obtain additional rights of use, visit


Attention is drawn to the possibility that some of the elements of this document may be the subject of patent rights. The Open Geospatial Consortium shall not be held responsible for identifying any or all such patent rights. Recipients of this document are requested to submit, with their comments, notification of any relevant patent claims or other intellectual property rights of which they may be aware that might be infringed by any implementation of the standard set forth in this document, and to provide supporting documentation.


This document is a user guide created as a deliverable in an OGC Interoperability Initiative as a user guide to the work of that initiative and is not an official position of the OGC membership. There may be additional valid approaches beyond what is described in this user guide.




Liping Di

George Mason University

Eugene Yu

George Mason University

Ziheng Sun

George Mason University

Li Lin

George Mason University

Md. Shahinoor Rahman

George Mason University

Chen Zhang

George Mason University

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

This User guide provides guidance for using the geospatial capabilities available at the Center for Spatial Information Science and Systems, George Mason University and resources through the Web by taking advantages open standards and data/service to respond to needs of resource planners at dealing with different disasters - flooding, hurricane, and droughts.

The user guide addresses the needs of acquiring quick and timely information on disasters and their impacts by resource planners for them to allocate resources efficiently in events of disasters.

Who are the audience of this Guide? The guide is primarily target at serving the needs of resource planners to quickly obtain disaster impact information, especially on agriculture and cropland. If you need impact information of flooding, hurricane, and/or drought quickly and cost-effectively, you should be benefited with means and methodologies by following the guide to walk through the Web of technologies and use cases.

What are covered in the Guide? The main points are as follows.

  • Means and tools for rapid assessment of disaster impacts on agriculture and cropland: CropScape, VegScape, RF-CLASS, and GeoPlatform

  • Use cases for applying such means and tools in assessing impacts due to floods, hurricanes, and droughts

  • Integration geospatially with human dimensions to provide location-aware services to resource planners

This Guide also reveals the role of open geospatial standards in supporting processing automation and data integration.


In addition, this Introduction file helps the reader to better understand the various sections of the Guide. The main contents are briefed here as follows.

Highlights of main chapters:

Chapter 2 provides a general architecture that connects data providers, catalogue providers, and data consumers.

Chapter 3 introduces the general use cases by user activity.

Chapter 4 discusses the special topics.

Chapter 5 discusses three scenarios - flood, hurricane, and agriculture and food security - and their related tools.

Chapter 6 summarizes what achieved and where technologies fall short.

1.1. Flood

Flooding is one of the most frequent natural disasters in the world. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, on average, floods cause over $40 billion in damage worldwide. U.S. alone account 20% of the global loss.

Floods cause more than $40 billion in damage worldwide annually, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development cite:[OECD2016]. In the U.S., losses average close to $8 billion a year cite:[OECD2016]. Significant death tolls have increased in recent decades.

For example, Hurricane Harvey in 2017 was the largest hurricane in past decade. Flooding account one of the largest damages from the storm.

Objectives: The flood scenario tries to provide a cost-effective, objective, rapid assessment of impact from extreme weather disasters. Deliver the results to information consumers quickly through an automated, geospatial processing workflow in the Web that accomplish the process from data to information, including data preparation, processing, computation, and product dissemination.

Disaster cases: Texas Hurricane Harvey FEMA DR-4332

User: Resource Planner

Use scenario: Use Sentinel and MODIS/VIIRS to quickly extract the extent map of flooded area and calculate Disaster Vegetation Difference Index (DVDI) - an indicator of disaster impact. Resource planners uses the information to efficiently allocate the resources in respond to flooding events.

1.2. Hurricane

A hurricane is one of the major natural hazards around coastal areas. Because of the low-pressure oceanic condition, a hurricane event causes high precipitation during its landfall. The agriculture sector especially crops are damaged because of the heavy precipitation due to hurricane events. Recent examples are Hurricane Harvey,and Hurricane Irma-induced flooding in 2017, which accounted for a million-dollar crop loss in the south-eastern parts of the US cite:[davidpike2018,quealy2017cost]. Therefore, it is important to monitor the impact of the hurricane on crop fields. Soil saturation is one of the indicators to monitor the impact of hurricane landfall. Crop condition and growth primarily depend on the balance of primary resources: soil, water, heat, and nutrients. Any extreme condition such as water shortage or extra water in the soil is detrimental to crop growth and yield. Plant water stress condition, agriculture drought, takes place when soil moisture goes below the wilting point because there is no water for plant uptake. Similarly, soil moisture at saturation level can significantly damage the crop, since crop roots are unable to adequately respire due to the insufficient oxygen in the soil pores cite:[rahman2017agriculture,universityofcaliforniadavis]. Therefore, monitoring of soil saturation can be helpful for crop damage assessment during hurricane landfall. It is impossible to monitor soil saturation with high frequency for the vast agricultural area by field-based measurement. Thus, satellite remote sensing-based soil moisture measurement is useful to monitor soil saturation over vast areas. Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), a NASA’s satellite mission, launched on January 2015, consisting of L-band microwaves Radar and Radiometer systems. It aims to provide global maps of soil moisture and freeze/thaw state every 2–3 days with high accuracy cite:[o2010nasa]. One of the key science applications of SMAP is to develop improved flood prediction and drought monitoring capabilities cite:[entekhabi2009soil]. SMAP level 4 (L4) represents the model-driven value-added data products, which provides surface soil moisture, root zone soil moisture, and carbon net ecosystem exchange to support SMAP key applications cite:[o2010nasa]. Catchment model soil porosity data of the SMAP soil moisture land model constant dataset is available from the National Snow and Ice Data Center cite:[reichle2018soil]. Thus, soil moisture content greater than effective soil porosity can be mapped as saturated soil. Moreover, cropland coverage and crop types data are available from national landcover data and cropland data layer (CDL). Hurricane impacted cropland information can be generated by combining cropland information, saturated soil maps, and county level boundary information. This information can quickly be disseminated through web mapping and cyberinfrastructure for the quick assessment of hurricane impact on croplands.

Disaster cases: Texas Hurricane Harvey FEMA DR-4332 and Louisiana Severe Storms and Flooding (DR-4277)

User: Resource Planner

Use scenario: Use SMAP data to quickly produce soil-moisture-statured area maps to give a quick lead where the landfall of hurricane events. A quick guide and information retrieval would provide resource planner with information of counties and people affected by hurricanes.

1.3. Agriculture and Food Security

Weather extremes have significant impact on agricultural productivity. Severe storms could damage crops immediately. In rain-fed area, severe drought could also cause immediate damage to crops in a large area. In irrigated area, an extended, long drought period could exhaust ground water resources and lead to unrepairable crop damage and yield reduction. Crops grow differently under different extreme weathers. The impacts are different with different crops and different events, as shown in Figure 1. Rapid and accurate information on how many acres cropland are affected and how serious the impact on yield after each of such severe weather events would greatly help resource planners in allocating resources to provide adequate, much-needed support to farmers.