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Earth Observation (EO) for Flood and Drought Monitoring Using Cloud Resources and Online Processing

What's the Master's Geo-information Science and Earth Observation about?

Online course Earth Observation (EO) for Flood and Drought monitoring using cloud resources and online processing

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Floods and droughts are among the world’s most devasting disasters. Timely spatial information on such events may reduce their impact and the analysis of past events can assist in effective prevention and mitigation.

Participants will be introduced to opportunities for monitoring floods and drought using analysis-ready EO images and products and open and online source tools for subsequent analysis. The course starts with an overview of the various operational EO satellite Data and Information Access Services (DIAS) – catalogues, through which satellite products are made freely available to the public. This is followed by an overview of the physical processes underlying droughts and floods along with an introduction to state-of-the-art relevant EO products. Subsequently, remote sensed based individual water balance components (like precipitation, evapotranspiration, soil moisture and water level) are treated by accessing EO data from online catalogues using programming tools allowing cloud-based data processing, analyses and data download. The end of the course incorporates the EO retrievals into studies of water balance components including tools of hydro-GIS like geometric delineation from DEMs and water modelling approaches. Finally, an assignment of a topic of interest, applying the knowledge gained and tools introduced, will complete the course.

For whom is this course relevant?

This course is intended for mid-career professionals with a background in hydrology, meteorology or water resources  and environmental management who would like to know more about the available Earth Observations data and product for the monitoring of floods and droughts while upgrading their data acquisitions and processing skills. Individuals interested on how these products are developed, how to gain access to them and get acquainted with the open source and online tools available for analysis of these product.

What is the course content?

During the course participants will be introduced and acquainted with current state-of-art opportunities for monitoring floods and drought using readily available free accessible Earth Observation (EO) data and products and open source tools for cloud based and local analysis.

What will be achieved?

The course objectives are both having a focus on the physical processes related to floods and droughts as well as emphasising the current capabilities using open cloud-based data computing and advanced free operational tools relevant for these applications.

With regard to flood and drought monitoring, upon completion of this course, the participant is able to:

  • LO 1 Explain the physical processing underlying floods and drought;
  • LO 2 Describe remote sensing methods available for monitoring floods and drought;
  • LO 3 Access Earth Observation (EO) data products from a suite of Data and Information Access Services relevant for flood and drought monitoring;
  • LO 4 Process EO data products from online catalogues into relevant flood and drought information;
  • LO 5 Perform basic hydrological analyses on EO based flood and drought information for a catchment or river basin.

With regard to geospatial and satellite data processing for flood and drought assessment, the participant is upon completion of this course able to:

  • LO1 Use Python scripting in combination with Jupyter Notebooks and required site packages for data (pre-) processing in the cloud;
  • LO2 Use of JAVA scripting or the Python GEEMap site-package in Google Earth Engine;
  • LO3 Retrieve the results obtained to their local processing system and conduct further single or time series analysis in conjunction with local datasets;
  • L04 Processing a powerful set of free and open data in conjunction with free and robust software tools.

Why this course?

Recent developments in online technology for both analysis and processing revolutionised the procedures of image processing in environmental applications. This course aims at the double objective of introducing the participants to the online processing capability of petabytes of free EO multi-source and multi-temporal data which can be applied to study drought and flood hazards.

Career perspectives

The course tackles the data, means and tools required for the market of spatial development of today in any kind of initiative requiring the input of Earth Observation and free online environmental data catalogues. The focus on hazards like droughts and floods aims to support the SDGs related to food security and climate (SDGs 1, 2, 3, 13 and 15). The course is designed to positively impact your possibilities in the job market both in the GOs and NGOs sectors.

Online learning, what is it like?

The course has been designed for 10 weeks. Each week you complete one module of course, which consists of a lecture and an exercise to bring into practice what was learnt. The study load of the entire course is 84 hours which means that you need to spend a minimum of 8 hours per week on the course. The course ends with an assignment with a study load of 12 hours.

About your diploma

Upon successful completion of this course you will receive a Certificate which will include the name of the course.

Along with your Certificate you will receive a Course Record providing all the subjects studied as part of the course. It states: the course code, subject, ECTS credits, exam date, location and the mark awarded.

If you decide to follow a full Postgraduate or Master's course at ITC, and after approval of the Examination Board, you will be exempted from the course(s) you followed successfully as an online course.

Hardware and Software requirements

Hardware minimum requirements: Laptop/PC with MS Windows 10, Intel(R) Core(TM) i5, 32 GB RAM, 50 GB free disc space or equivalent. 

Software requirements: Free and open software tools are at the core of this course, next to Python and the Jupyter Notebook site-package, other essential Python site-packages, a recent ESA SNAP version, QGIS LTR 3.16 (Hannover) and ILWIS version 3.8.6 will be used. Participants will be required to (freely) register for Google Earth Engine and Google Drive, the Copernicus Climate Data Store and depending on the assignment developed eventually for other open data access portals, like the FAO WaPOR, the Copernicus Space Component Data Access Portal, the Copernicus Open Access Hub and the Copernicus Open Data Access Portal at EUMETSAT.

Admission requirements

Academic level and background

Applicants for an online course should have a Bachelor degree or equivalent from a recognised university in a discipline related to the course, preferably combined with working experience in a relevant field.


The faculty accepts transcripts, degrees and diplomas in the following languages: Dutch, English, German, French and Spanish. It is at the discretion of the faculty to require additional English translations of all documents in other languages as well.

English language

As all courses are given in English, proficiency in the English language is a prerequisite.

If you are a national of one of the countries in this list (PDF), you are exempted from an English language test.

Please note: the requirements when applying for fellowships may vary according to the regulations of the fellowship provider.

English language tests: minimum requirements

Only internationally recognized test results are accepted.

TOEFL Paper-based Test (PBT)


TOEFL Internet-based Test


British Council / IELTS



C2 Proficiency / C1 Advanced

Computer skills

To follow online education you must have basic computer experience, regular access to internet, and e-mail. For some courses, additional computer skills are required (see description of specific course).

Technical requirements online education and assessment

For online education, we formulated guidelines to guarantee optimal performance. For online oral exams and proctoring during online assessments, the webcam and headset requirements need to be met.

GIS and remote sensing

Most online courses, except for the introductory course, require knowledge of, and skills in, working with GIS and/or digital image processing of remotely sensed data.

Candidates are asked to provide proof of identity during the registration process.

Key information

CROHO code
Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation
10 weeks
100% English taught
Application deadline
25 July 2022
non EU/EEA
25 July 2022
25 July 2022
Starting date
5 September 2022
End date
11 November 2022
Tuition fees
Full period 2022 / 2023
part-time, institutional
€ 825
part-time, ODA-rate
€ 619