Natural Hazards

, Volume 94, Issue 3, pp 1099–1116 | Cite as

Direct tangible damage assessment for regional snowmelt flood disasters with HJ-1 and HR satellite images: a case study of the Altay region, northern Xinjiang, China

  • Siquan Yang
  • Haixia HeEmail author
  • Weitao Chen
  • Lizhe Wang
Original Paper


Regional snowmelt flood disasters (RSFDs) can cause significant direct tangible damage which generally refers to the physical destruction due to direct contact with the flood water, such as damage to buildings, croplands, livestock, and infrastructure. Information about people, habitations, and infrastructure affected by the flood is essential for disaster responders and the humanitarian community to plan and coordinate emergency response activities. However, this direct tangible damage information obtained in the ground is limited, incomplete, contradictory, and sometimes impossible to obtain in a short time. Earth observation satellites help overcome operational uncertainties after the RSFDs. Here, we present an improved rapid direct tangible damage assessment model using HJ-1 and GF-1/2 satellite images. We selected the Altay region in northern Xinjiang, China, as the study area, and investigated a RSFD occurring in spring 2017. A series of HJ-1 and GF-1 images were used to track the flood extent over the duration of the disaster, and the maximum affected flood area was assigned as the area in which direct tangible damage occurred. Pre-disaster GF-2 images were then used to estimate direct tangible damage to habitations (2375 households and 6388 rooms), infrastructure (102 km of roads), and affected population (7125) in the flood area, which covered an area of 185,240 m2. Our method is an effective approach for the design of rescue plans and disaster subsidy programs.


Snowmelt flood disaster Tangible damage HJ-1 GF-2 Remote sensing 



This work was supported jointly by the China Geological Survey (No. 12120115063201), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41401605), and National Key Research and Development Program of China (Project No. 2017YFC1502900). The authors would like to thank Zhao Mingjing for her assistance with laboratory work, as well as the helpful comments made by anonymous reviewers.

Author contributions

All authors have made significant contributions to the manuscript. Siquan Yang and Haixia He conceived of, designed, and performed the experiments and wrote the manuscript. Weitao Chen and Lizhe Wang helped to analyze the results and revise the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Disaster Reduction Center of ChinaBeijingChina
  2. 2.Faculty of Computer Science and Geological Survey of CUGChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina
  3. 3.Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC)University of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands

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