Strategies for improving the communication of satellite-derived InSAR data for geohazards through the analysis of Twitter and online data portals

C. scott Watson*, John R. Elliott, Susanna K. Ebmeier, Juliet J Biggs, Sarah K Brown, Helen Burns, al et

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Satellite-based earth observation sensors are increasingly able to monitor geophysical signals related to natural hazards, and many groups are working on rapid data acquisition, processing, and dissemination to data users with a wide range of expertise and goals. A particular challenge in the meaningful dissemination of Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) data to non-expert users is its unique differential data structure and sometimes low signal-to-noise ratio. In this study, we evaluate the online dissemination of ground deformation measurements from InSAR through Twitter, alongside the provision of open-access InSAR data from the Centre for Observation and Modelling of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tectonics (COMET) Looking Into Continents from Space with Synthetic Aperture Radar (LiCSAR) processing system. Our aim is to evaluate (1) who interacts with disseminated InSAR data, (2) how the data are used, and (3) to discuss strategies for meaningful communication and dissemination of open InSAR data. We found that the InSAR Twitter community was primarily composed of non-scientists (62 %), although this grouping included earth observation experts in applications such as commercial industries. Twitter activity was primarily associated with natural hazard response, specifically following earthquakes and volcanic activity, where users disseminated InSAR measurements of ground deformation, often using wrapped and unwrapped interferograms. For earthquake events, Sentinel-1 data were acquired, processed, and tweeted within 4.7±2.8 d (the shortest was 1 d). Open-access Sentinel-1 data dominated the InSAR tweets and were applied to volcanic and earthquake events in the most engaged-with (retweeted) content. Open-access InSAR data provided by LiCSAR were widely accessed, including automatically processed and tweeted interferograms and interactive event pages revealing ground deformation following earthquake events. The further work required to integrate dissemination of InSAR data into longer-term disaster risk-reduction strategies is highly specific, to both hazard type and international community of practice, as well as to local political setting and civil protection mandates. Notably, communication of uncertainties and processing methodologies are still lacking. We conclude by outlining the future direction of COMET LiCSAR products to maximize their useability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-96
Number of pages22
JournalGeoscience Communication
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research has been supported by UK Research and Innovation (grant nos. NE/K010867/1, NE/S009000/1, and NE/R015546/1) and the Royal Society (grant no. UF150282).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 C. Scott Watson et al.


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