According to the most recent situation report from the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the number of people displaced by flooding in Namibia “has increased to 54,581 (previous reports indicated up to 13,000 displaced). Serious damage to roads and bridges hampers full access to the affected population, estimated at 344,000 people.” Although the rivers of this low-lying region flood each year during the rainy season, the rain and flooding in 2009 have been exceptional.
This pair of images from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite shows flooding along the Chobe River. The river’s flood plain is lake-like. The images combine visible and infrared wavelengths of light to make flood water (dark blue) stand out form vegetation (red) and naturally bare or developed land (pale tan or nearly white). On April 3, 2009, water was spilling out across the Chobe River flood plain into croplands and villages. The image from June 2007 (bottom) illustrates the size of the river in the dry season.
NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using data provided courtesy of NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS,
and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey.
At least 350,000 people were affected by flooding in Namibia during the annual rainy season in southern Africa in March 2009. Nearly 100 people died, and more than 10,000 were displaced as the Zambezi River rose to its highest level in 40 years.
Standing on the ground, it is impossible to gauge the full scope of a disaster the size of the Kosi River floods in northeastern India. On August 18, 2008, the river, swollen with monsoon rains, burst through an embankment into an old channel. By September 2, the river’s course still took it over populated land that had not been prone to flooding in the past. To grasp the full extent of this flood, you need the view from space.