Seeing a Better World™


By DigitalGlobe | Published:

On Friday, devastation hit the Philippines. The massively destructive typhoon, Haiyan, turned into one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded at landfall, with winds estimated at 195 mph, gusts up to 235 mph and a storm surge that rose up to 20 feet high. As with any natural disaster, rapid, comprehensive, unclassified satellite coverage can be an invaluable tool for responding to these major events.

On November 07, 2013 at 7 pm EST, several hours before Typhoon Haiyan made landfall, DigitalGlobe activated FirstLook, an online subscription service for emergency managers and enterprise customers that provides fast, web-based access to pre- and post-event imagery of natural and manmade disasters. In the first few days, following the initial devastation, DigitalGlobe’s satellites collected and delivered over 19,000 square kilometersof imagery in the hardest hit areas, including Tacloban City and the surrounding areas.  FirstLook’s frequent revisit times have enabled rapid delivery of quality imagery content during this time-critical event.

Below is a chilling image chip, depicting the impact from typhoon Haiyan.

This area on the west side of Cancabato Bay bore some of the heaviest brunt. Debris from the storm surge is seen in the lower left area. You can also make out a “Help Us” sign in front of the Redemptorist Church

The scale of the storm’s destruction has been massive. In addition to collecting imagery, we need volunteers to help us map the devastation. In support of such efforts, DigitalGlobe has activated a crowdsourcing campaign, open to anyone willing to help.

For this campaign, we will be releasing the crowd produced results to the open source community. Contact DigitalGlobe’s Tomnod platform team at if you are interested in receiving access to the Haiyan data.

More resources from DigitalGlobe:

For media: please use required attribution “Satellite image courtesy of DigitalGlobe” and copyright. See our usage policy

For geospatial professionals: here is the catalog ID you can use to quickly access your area of interest.

For U.S. government employees: Use your .gov or .mil address to obtain access to our high resolution satellite imagery via My DigitalGlobe, and NGA’s EnhancedView program.

Download our complete FirstLook Report below:


Boycn says: March 23, 2015 at 11:53 am

. . . it is likely that the goblal frequency of occurrence oftropical cyclones will either decrease or remain essentially unchanged, concurrent with a likely increase in both goblal mean tropicalcyclone maximum wind speed and precipitation rates. The future influence of climate change on tropical cyclones is likely to vary byregion, but the specific characteristics of the changes are not yet well quantified and there is low confidence in region-specificprojections of frequency and intensity. While, in principle, there is no problem with scientists holding outlier views, in this case the authors have actually made errors in theirrepresentation of the current state of the science.Roger Pielke Jr, Professor and Director, Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Colorado,Boulder, CO, USThey respond today with this:November 12, 2013 9:27 pm We have to keep examining dataFrom Lord Hunt and Prof Johnny Chan.Sir, As meteorologists with some experience we were surprised by the accusation (Letters, October 21) by Professor Roger Pielke Jr (aleading policy academic whose thesis about vulnerability we agree with) that our FT article We must face up to the rising threat fromcoastal storms (October 17) was not based on good science, and contradicted the recent IPCC Working Group 1 Report.Paragraph B1 of the report concludes that extreme weather events are likely to have become frequent, severe and last longer, with theimplication in other parts of the report (not stated very clearly) that these trends will continue, unless or until human influences on theglobal climate are mitigated. The published data on extreme events mentioned in our article (some of which, although from highlyreputable institutions, had not been submitted or read by IPCC) provide details of where and how these events occur.The IPCC Working Group 1 Report has done a fine job, but scientists need to keep looking at data and providing explanations abouttrends in severe climatic and weather events, whether or not they coincide with the current IPCC consensus.Julian Hunt, Former Director, British Meteorological Office; Johnny Chan, Chair, Tropical Cyclone Panel, WorldMeteorological Organisation

Johana says: December 22, 2014 at 4:28 am

Roger, you sayUnfortunately for Sachs that paper does not show trends sigcifinant at the >90% level for the strongest cyclones in the western North Pacific basinI would argue that what the Sachs paper actually shows is that one cannot out rule out no trend at the 90% level (if you consider Figure 2 at least). This is slightly different to what I think you’re implying with the above statement. Even in the WNP basin, the Elsner et al. paper still suggests that a positive trend is more likely than a negative trend (or no trend). Also, if you consider Table 1 from Elsner et al., which goes beyond the 0.85 quantile, it seems to suggest that the trend is both positive and, in some cases, statistically sigcifinant.

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Josie says: November 18, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Please can you show other places that typhoon Haiyan like CAPIZ AND AKLAN destroy not only Tacloban because we have a family in Capiz and Aklan. Please help them.

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