25 January 2005

Atlas on Tsunami Damaged Areas in Asia Produced by FAO

Satellite Images, Maps Assist in Responding to Disaster

(Reissued as received.)

ROME, 24 January (FAO) -- An atlas produced by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on areas affected by the 26 December 2004 tsunami in South-East Asia has proven to be very useful to FAO teams and to Italian and other European officials and non-governmental organizations working in the devastated zones.

The FAO has prepared the Tsunami Atlas using images collected from FAO databases and completed by major spatial data sources on the web.  "These include raw satellite images, interpreted satellite images, topographic maps, thematic maps and geo-statistics", explained FAO remote sensing expert Dominique Lantieri.

Before and After

"The Atlas shows the tsunami-affected areas before and after the disaster, thus helping experts in evaluating the damage and estimating reconstruction and rehabilitation needs especially in the agricultural lands, the mangroves areas, as well as in the coastal infrastructure that is used by farmers and fishermen", Mr. Lantieri added.

The FAO Tsunami Atlas is well advanced for Indonesia and Sri Lanka which were hit hard by the waves.  The FAO is also working intensively regarding the other affected countries.

Some of the satellite images showing areas affected by the tsunami have been interpreted by experts with the help of Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis.  They show land features and details up to one meter of resolution in some cases.

Topographic Maps

Topographic maps which provide information on terrain, roads and villages have also been made available at 1:250000 scale and a 1:50000 scale.

In addition, the Atlas displays maps and statistics providing information on the local climate, the cropping calendars, levels of malnutrition, as well as the latest figures provided by aid workers on human losses and material damage, Mr. Lantieri said.

The maps and images can be also used to incorporate field information collected by relief organisations, thanks to the GPS technology.

So far, the FAO has prepared and distributed a paper Atlas and a cd-rom version containing hundreds of tsunami-related images and maps for Indonesia and Sri Lanka.  The data is also available through Internet.

Wide Distribution

The Atlas will soon be distributed widely in hard copy throughout the tsunami-affected countries, including national ministries, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations.

Many of the images can be viewed and understood by non-cartographic experts, and are made available in most common image computer format.

An effort is under way to extend the Atlas to the other affected countries and to regularly update the maps and satellite images.  It is expected that the Atlas will become a key reference cartographic document for operators working at the planning and field levels in the tsunami-affected areas.

For radio interviews, please, call:  Liliane Kambirigi, Radio Information Officer, tel.:  +39 06 570 53223.

Television:  Bou Downes, TV Information Officer, tel.:  +39 06 570 55980/52518

Editors: FAO's photo library offers hi-quality images free of charge. Visit:  http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/photo/.

Online news from FAO:  http://www.fao.org/newsroom/.

FAO media office:  media-office@fao.org.

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