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Unstrange Phenomena

20 August 2010

Check Out NASA Images of Devastating Pakistan Floods

*** These aerial view flood images of the entire country of Pakistan are mind-boggling in their scope of how the monsoon flooding is affecting the lives of millions.

From Denny: The monsoon rains this summer have caused so much flooding that 20 percent of Pakistan's population is adversely affected. The figures are that up to 13 million are affected and about six million are so devastated they are homeless.

Over a billion dollars in aid has been rushed to Pakistan from the world community. America has already given $90 million in aid and has soldiers on the ground delivering aid from the air along with the Pakistani military. An additional amount, up to $150 million in aid, has been increased by President Obama this week.

Tens of thousands of villages in Pakistan are affected by this late July flooding of the monsoon season. It has resulted in thousands of deaths because of unsafe drinking water and the diseases that follow large natural disasters.

Pakistan's floods were brought about by 16 inches of rain that caused the Indus and Kabul rivers to overflow. The overflow has been rushing downstream for weeks, displacing millions of people.

This image is from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft. It was taken over the city of Sukkur, Pakistan, this week along the Indus River. The Indus River is Pakistan's longest river. It snakes vertically from north to south. This river also provides the world's largest canal-based irrigation system.

*** Photo by NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Enter an unusually large monsoon season into the north. Those floods would move downstream along the Indus and Kabul rivers, rushing toward the only outlet at the Arabian Sea.

The first image here was taken more than a year ago on 31 July 2009, depicting the normal state of the Indus River. The second image is from the Landsat-5 satellite and shows the huge flood waters from this past week.

*** Photo by NASA images courtesy the MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

This aerial view is from a U.S. Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter. It depicts extensive flooding in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province this week. This squadron of helicopters in involved in humanitarian flood relief efforts: Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15.

*** Photo by U.S. Marine Corps photo by Capt. Paul Duncan

This photo is what is called a false color image and comes from the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument aboard NASA's Terra spacecraft. The areas of farmland and vegetation affected by the flooding are shown in red.

The top image was taken over a year ago, on 8 August 2009. Here the Indus River is flowing through the Sindh Province of Pakistan. Normally, when not a flood season, this river is only about one kilometer wide. The second image was taken on 11 August 2010 and depicts how the river has swollen to an astonishing 23 kilometers wise, even more in some spots.

*** Photo by NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team

The top image is from Landsat-5 satellite, taken over a year ago on 9 August 2009. The second image, taken in mid-August 2010, we can clearly see how the flood waters from northern Pakistan traveled downstream to flood out thousands of acres, down to the city of Khewali in southern Pakistan.

*** Photo by Robert Simmon, based on Landsat 5 data from the USGS Global Visualization Viewer.

With all the news footage we see every day on our TV news, it's hard to remember that the rain began falling in Pakistan on 28 July 2010. That's when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA's Aqua spacecraft flew over Pakistan for this image. Those thunderstorm clouds ended up dropping more than 16 inches of rain over the region on July 28 and 29. Two days of rain triggered the massive flooding of the Indus and Kabul rivers.

So what's that blue vertical line across this photo? It represents the path of CloudSat at the time the MODIS image was recorded. It was CloudSat that captured the 3D vertical structure of a large thunderstorm cell in the northern section of the country to reveal the heavy precipitation. CloudSat also measured the height of the clouds to be about 15 kilometers.

What's the faint red line represent on the photo? It represents the topography of the area being photographed. The ground echo and CloudSat's signal were severely affected and diminished by the heavy rains and thick clouds. On this image the red line practically disappears until the satellite moves out of the thickest part of the storm and heaviest rains.

*** Photo by NASA/JPL/The Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA), Colorado State University

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