Risk assessment for the Mekong delta: DLR and its partners set up the WISDOM information system
15 September 2008
WISDOM: On-site measurements in the Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam is more than just a tourist paradise. It is also of vital importance for the life of millions of people. In order to ensure the sustainable and environmentally friendly development of this sensitive area, Germany and the Vietnamese authorities are setting up the WISDOM information system (Water-related Information System for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam). The project is led by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen.
Thanks to its fertile soil and the water of the Mekong River, the conditions for the cultivation of rice, tropical fruits, sugar cane and coconuts in the Delta are ideal. Moreover, the Delta, covering an area of about 70 000 square kilometres criss-crossed with river branches, provides a habitat for a rich variety of species. However, the Vietnamese government is facing increasing challenges due to high population growth, water pollution and increased flooding. Plans for new dams in the Mekong riparian countries leave the inhabitants of the Delta facing an uncertain future. WISDOM is designed to help the authorities recognise potential risks at an early stage.
In principle, the information system functions in a way similar to "Google Earth": At the click of a mouse, it gives access to for instance terrain data, population density, water quality, flooding risks and other indicators for the selected areas of the Mekong Delta. These should help the authorities perform risk assessments - for instance during the flooding which usually takes place in the Delta during the monsoon season from May to November.
Satellite map of the Mekong Delta
The data for the WISDOM system comes from Earth observation satellites - including the TerraSAR-X radar satellite which is operated by DLR - as well as from extensive on-site research and measurements conducted by DLR and its partners. 60 scientists and 15 doctoral students from several German and Vietnamese institutes, research centres and universities are working on this project, which is scheduled to extend over six years. WISDOM should be fully operation by 2011.
WISDOM was created as a joint initiative of the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (MOST) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung; BMBF). From the German side, the project receives 4.5 million euro in funding.