Months of flooding washed even more mud into the wide Rio de la Plata estuary than usual, changing its normally tan waters to a deep chocolate brown. Floods swept across Argentina and Uruguay starting in January and ending in late March 2007, when nearly half the average annual rainfall came down in just a few days. The floods inundated farmland and isolated and damaged cities. Soy farmers may have lost more than two million metric tons of their crop in Santa Fe, the most affected province, reported Bloomberg.
As the floods drained down the Paraná and Uruguay Rivers, the water swept soil into the rivers. By the time the two rivers converged into the Rio de la Plata, the water was thick with sediment as shown in the top, photo-like image. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured the image on April 12, 2007. The lower image, also from Terra MODIS, was taken the previous year, when the sediment in the river was closer to normal levels. The high volume of water draining into the estuary has turned the normally calm, bland surface into multi-shaded streams of mixing water. The high flow is also pushing more sediment out into the hook-shaped Samborombón Bay on the south side of the estuary.
Signs of flooding are also evident in the wetlands along the Paraná River. Instead of being deep green as they were in April 2006, the wetlands are almost black under a layer of water. Tan streams of sediment flow from the main channel of the river over the soaked wetlands. Beyond the wetlands and the riverbanks are tiny tan and green squares of farmland. The silver semi-circle on the southern bank of the Rio de la Plata is Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, and the constellation of cities that surround it. Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, is the silver area along the northern shore of the estuary in the top image (under clouds in the 2006 image).
NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using data provided courtesy of the MODIS Rapid Response team.