Project NOAH, the flagship disaster prevention and mitigation program of the Department of Science and Technology, is announcing the conclusion of its three component projects: Landslide Hazard Mapping, Storm Surge Inundation Mapping, and Disaster Management Using WebGIS. What is significant about these projects not only lies in the production of Barangay-level hazard maps, but also in their recognition that disaster risk reduction (DRR) is everyone’s responsibility.
The more inclusive approach of translating the usually intimidating high-technology data into a relatable web format has empowered each end-user and created awareness through its accessibility. It has appealed to the public by giving them the information directly, showing them that science works, and, more importantly, that DRR cannot be successful without them.
The tools and maps created by the NOAH program took nearly three years to complete and can now be added as one of the tools the government can use to achieve its goal of a disaster-free Philippines. In these three years, the components have stayed true to the mission of Project NOAH to disseminate timely, relevant, and accessible weather data and hazard information to the public at large.
The culmination of the Landslide, Storm Surge, and WebGIS component projects, as they are commonly known, does not entail the end of Project NOAH. The program remains committed to helping government units, stakeholders, and other organizations recognize natural hazards around them and lead them out of harm’s way. A part of this commitment is NOAH’s continued inclusion in the NDRRMC’s pre-disaster risk assessment (PDRA) system, displaying the proactive approach of the government to prevent disasters.
With the projects’ tools and maps now successfully operational, officials of the local government units and members of non-government agencies, community leaders, policy makers, planners, and families are now one-step ahead in achieving sustainable development, mitigation, and equity in their respective communities.
Disaster Management using WebGIS
The core proposition of the WebGIS component is based on the strong execution, clear geographic focus, and disciplined approach of developing a web portal that provides a robust visualization of geospatial data. The project clearly demonstrates the use of web-based geographic information systems as an effective mechanism to integrate various disaster-related datasets. Through this, end-users can avail and view hazard maps and near real-time hazard information. Through the course of the project, it was able to:
- Successfully produce a complete module regarding disaster management and the use of the NOAH website and mobile applications
- Launch a Facebook page of DOST- Project NOAH on May 13, 2014 including infographics on the use of the website, posts on extreme weather advisories, news articles, and other items related to project
- Produce print brochures, on top of videos and infographic materials, as part of its public relations efforts
- Conduct Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaigns to promote the use of the NOAH website and its related mobile applications
Landslide Hazard Mapping
The Landslide team sought to apply the best practices in landslide hazard identification throughout the international science community to the Philippines. Using high-resolution elevation maps and available satellite data, the team was able to start a robust landslide inventory (2002 – present) and simulate landslide susceptible areas, taking into consideration the different factors causing them. The landslide simulations or numerical models were separately ran at a national scale for rain-induced landslides, structurally-controlled landslides and the recognition of alluvial fans where perilous debris flows may occur. Rain-induced landslides are expectedly common given the amount of rain and number of tropical cyclones passing through the Philippines.
Structural landslides, compared to rain-induced landslides, are deep-seated and are usually more massive like the 2006 Guinsaugon landslide in Southern Leyte. Debris Flows are fast-moving slurries of water, soil, rocks and other materials, the most popular of which happened in 2012 in New Bataan, Compostela Valley where a town located near an alluvial fan was buried under enormous boulders, killing more than 500 people. Within the three years of the program, the Landslide mapping project has accomplished the following:
- Created models for simulating landslide hazards for all landslide types
- Provided a synthesized landslide hazard map of rain-induced and structurally-controlled hazards of all the 82 provinces now uploaded in the Project NOAH website as “Unstable Slopes” for the landslide source and “Landslide Hazard” for the included affected areas of runoffs
- Initiated a landslide inventory system for the whole country
- Automated detection of all alluvial fans in the Philippines
- Created a landslide hazard Atlas for each of the 82 Philippine provinces
Storm Surge Inundation Mapping
The Storm Surge hazard mapping component identified, quantified and mapped the storm surge threat to the entire Philippine coastline. Also, the integration of the storm surge inundation maps to the Project NOAH website and mobile applications was realized during the implementation of the project.
Along with these accomplishments, the component completed inundation maps for the 67 storm surge prone provinces. You may find the link to all the hazard maps in KML format through this link: http://126.96.36.199/KML_Files/. They have also managed to:
- Provide storm surge inundation and hazard maps of 67 provinces now uploaded in Project NOAH’s website
- Automate and simulate storm surges for 721 Tropical Cyclones using the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) storm surge model
- Incorporate JMA and PAGASA forecast data in storm surge modelling
- Use the JMA storm surge model, Delf3D- flow model, and Mike 21 flow model in simulating storm surge scenarios in the Philippines
- Simulate storm surges produced by 721 tropical cyclones using the parameters (wind speed, pressure, etc.) of Supertyphoon Yolanda
The completed research and development projects resulted to a significant increase in people’s awareness of how science can help them build resilience and increase their capacity to prevent and mitigate the impending threats of disaster-causing hazards.
Facing exceptional challenges in the course of empowering the public through Science and Technology is inevitable. But with the goal of improving Filipinos’ capacity to respond to and prepare against the destructive impacts and effects of extreme weather disturbances, Project NOAH remains dedicated to upholding its values, vision, and mission for the Filipino people. It will continue to develop new tools and conduct further research into world-class science and technology to prepare the Philippines against the threat of natural hazards.