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LIDAR stands for the Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR), a remote sensing method that can be used to generate detailed maps of topography and retrieve digital elevation data necessary for flood modelling and vulnerability and risks analysis. The LIDAR method uses a pulsed laser to measure and record three-dimensional information on the surface of the earth (topographic LIDAR), the seafloor or riverbed (bathymetric LIDAR). The equipment is usually installed on an airplane, helicopter, or other airborne device, and includes a laser, scanner and GPS device. The laser projects millions of ultraviolet, visible or near infrared light pulses (or green light for bathymetric measurements), onto the land, which are reflected by the surface. The sensors then measure the range, and combined with GPS data, provide high-resolution topographical readings.
The use of LIDAR technology helps acquire data on elevation and depth that is critical for assessing flood risks. The data is then fed into various models. For example, low-lying areas (particularly highly populated areas) at risk of flooding can be identified and mapped and integrated into the region’s flood early warning systems to improve overall disaster preparedness. LIDAR technology can also be used to identify areas at risk of earthquakes by revealing faults on the ground surface.