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Flooding along the Mekong River
This page contains archived content and is no longer being updated. At the time of publication, it represented the best available science. However, more recent observations and studies may have rendered some content obsolete.
In August 2011, floods extended from Cambodia’s Tônlé Sab (Tonle Sap) southward past Phnum Penh (Phnom Penh). The Phonm Penh Post reported that unusually heavy rainfall over the upper Mekong River in Laos and Thailand led to severe flooding in Cambodia.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured these images on August 24, 2011 (top), and August 26, 2010 (bottom). These images use a combination of visible and infrared light to better distinguish between water and land. Vegetation is green, and clouds are pale blue-green. Water ranges in color from navy to silver-blue. The silver tones of the water result from sunlight reflecting off the water surface.
This region experiences persistently cloudy weather, but regardless of some cloud cover, significant changes are apparent between August 2010 and August 2011. Water is higher in and around Tônlé Sab, and large areas of standing water cover the ground north, east, and south of Phnum Penh.