How do you detect a drought from space when two-thirds of the Earth’s surface is covered by clouds at any given point.

Here is how SwissRe came up with a smart solution.

December 3, 2018


round two-thirds of the Earth’s surface is covered by clouds at any given point, Clouds are so prevalent in the atmosphere that when NASA does manage to capture satellite images of Earth without clouds, it’s news.

VanderSat technology has no problem with clouds or darkness. And that is a huge advantage to our customers. VanderSat partner SwissRe uses VanderSat satellite data for drought insurance. Based on VanderSat soil moisture data they have built a strong parametric insurance product that overcomes the problems associated with optical imagery or weather stations. There is a very strong relationship with crop yields, a prerequisite for a solid index based insurance.

Take a look at the image comparison below for an agricultural region in Kazakhstan. There two interesting things to notice. First and foremost VanderSat sees the drought. This is something you will not notice based on the optical imagery. The reddish parts show the field that are lacking water for the crops to grow. Second, on the right side you see the clouds that are exactly in the line of sight. VanderSat passive microwave techology sees right through them.

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