Bangkok 2011 Flood Damage Assessment Using 1-m Satellite Imagery: AIT Campus Infrastructure Assets

Bangkok 2011 Flood Damage Assessment Using Pre-flood and Post-flood 1-m Satellite Imagery Scenes: Imagery-based Inventory Map of AIT Campus Infrastructure Assets, Post-flood Geospatial Mapping, and Flood Defense Strategy.

My summary report on in-depth analysis of AIT campus flood inundation using satellite imagery and geospatial analysis includes major contributions of Mr. Alper Durmus from his thesis chapters. Alper completed his M.S. degree in July 2012.

This is my third report related to the flood impact assessment after my December 2011 visit to Bangkok, Thailand. As observed during my student days of 1973-75 at the beautiful AIT campus, the surrounding area was mostly paddy fields, klongs, and small villages with traditional Thai wooden buildings on wooden piles so that the first floor and living space was above normal flood level. This is one type of flood protective design of residential/commercial buildings recommended by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in addition to the dike (flood wall) protection that was used to protect the AIT campus where all buildings were built of reinforced concrete structures.

The entire campus of the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Pathumthani province was inundated with by 2-3 m of floodwater on October 21 for about six weeks until the end of November 2011. The administration deployed their emergency evacuation plan successfully and evacuated all staff, students, faculty and a number of classroom furniture and computer equipment to two temporary locations in Hua Hin and Cha-am. The floodwater was pumped out and recovery and restoration operations started at the campus in Rangsit immediately in early December with the help of campus community and Thai alumni with the worldwide alumni support.

The academic program was relocated to the Rangsit campus in February 2012. These milestone achievements have been unprecedented. It also necessitated the need for strategic flood defense planning in case of future floods to save the campus infrastructure and expensive laboratory and computer research equipment worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

AIT Campus Infrastructure and Inspection Map Based on 19 Dec 2011 Visit Notes of Dr. Waheed Uddin (Map Credit: Alper Durmus)

The following summary of imagery-based pre-flood campus inventory and post-flood damage assessment of the AIT campus in Bangkok is partially based on the M.S. thesis of Alper Durmus completed on July 26, 2012 at the University of Mississippi. Only key results of the geospatial analysis using pre- and post-flood Ikonos satellite imagery scenes are presented to assess pre-flood built infrastructure and post-flood safeguard strategies.

The 2010 pre-flood imagery from December 18, 2010 shows clearly all the roads, buildings, dikes, and other features of this green and ecologically healthy campus.

Uddin’s Pre-Flood Assessment of AIT Campus Infrastructure Using geoeye’s IKONOS Imagery of 18 Dec 2010


The 2011 imagery from early November 4, 2011 shows the flooded campus and confirms the field inspection on December 19, 2011. Flood water devastated the first floors of all buildings.

Uddin’s AIT Campus Flood Assessment Using geoeye’s IKONOS Imagery of 4 Nov 2011

The 2.5m high campus dikes, serving well as a floodwall to protect the campus since 1970 for over 40 years, were breached as the highway on eastside worked as a dam collecting runoff and floodwater from around other educational institutes and industrial/commercial estates.

A flood depth map, created using the imagery based geospatial infrastructure and terrain planimetrics and the measured flood mark heights, shows the total flooded area of 1.27 km2. The total standing flood water is estimated as 3 million cu. m. According to the latest U.S. standards and flood damage rating methodology the flood damage at the campus was catastrophic.
Uddin’s AIT Flood Assessment Map of Flood Depth With Features, 30 June 2012 (Map Credit: Alper Durmus)

A detailed analysis of several flood defense strategies was conducted. Alternative 1 was the least costly based on initial construction costs, which is being implemented by AIT due to the urgency and available funding constraint. The following ranking is based on 50-year life cycle costs.

  • Alternative 1:       Strengthening and raising of the existing dike to 3.4 m, Rank 2
  • Alternative 2:       Reinforced concrete sheet pile panels with deeper steel H piles, Rank 4
  • Alternative 3:       Reinforced concrete sheet pile panels without steel H piles, Rank 3
  • Alternative 4:       Composite Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP) sheet pile panels, Rank 1

Alternative 4 (FRP sheet pile panel wall) ranks top number 1 based on the least life cycle cost. Detailed discussions on FRP alternatives are provided in the M.S. thesis of Alper Durmus.

Dr. Uddin’s Note: Since its establishment in Bangkok in 1959 as SEATO Graduate School, AIT has supported and granted MS and PhD degrees to over 19,000 selected students in Asia and worldwide from 88 countries. Its alumni are residing and working in 108 countries worldwide with the majority from Thailand.
Alper Durmus completed his M.S. Degree with thesis within a record time of 12 months. His interest in natural disaster impacts motivated his research in flood impact assessment using satellite imagery based geospatial analysis.
During 2000-2012 about 9,000 disasters occurred worldwide and 23% of these events were related to floods. Thailand’s flood of October-November 2011, the most disastrous in 60 years and named a megaflood in Thai media, was declared as a national disaster by the Thai government. More than 13 million people were affected, about 2 million people were displaced, and 815 lives were lost. As of December 1st, 903 factories were destroyed nationwide, and 10 out of 26 provinces were affected. Economic loss was estimated by the World Bank as 46 billion US$, most of which was due to devastation in manufacturing industry estates north of Bangkok.
The Royal Thai Government did excellent job to protect Bangkok from floods, a megacity of 10 million people by redirecting all the 1,500 million cu. m of flood water using a network of klongs (canals) to the three provinces around Bangkok. Ayutthaya and Pathumthani provinces were the front lines of defense for Bangkok. The historic city of Ayutthaya in the northern floodplain of the Chao Phraya river was inundated by an average 3 meter of floodwater converting city streets to klongs and forcing people to use boats to evacuate the vicinities. Floodwater flowing from northern plains through Ayutthaya southwards did not spare the educational campuses at Rangsit in the north of Bangkok.

Alper Durmus’s M.S. thesis examines in detail the catastrophic flood damage assessment of the AIT campus using pre- and post-flood 1-m satellite imagery scenes and recommends FRP sheet pile panel along the existing dikes as a long term cost-effective flood defense strategy.

GeoMedia Pro software, provided as Intergraph grant to the University of Mississippi CAIT, is used for all geospatial student projects and teaching at CAIT. We appreciate Intergraph support for geospatial teaching and training of future workforce.

AIT Newsletter of January 2012 includes news about Dr. Uddin’s visit to AIT campus for post-flood inspection (see slide 3).


ASEAN Region Countries (data credit: CIA Factbook; geospatial map credit: Carrissa Beasely)

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