Major flooding in southern Australia has caused a catastrophic situation for residents, industry, farming, and wildlife in the region. The worst flooding in decades has affected an area the size of Germany and France combined, cut off 22 towns, impacted over 200,000 people, closed 75% of the coal mines in the area, and devastated the country's wheat crop. Ten people have died, an estimated $1 billion has been lost in coal production, and the wheat crop, which represents up to half of the national crop, may be degraded, at best, to animal feed. Housing and transportation networks have also been severely damaged.
Landsat satellite data record the expansion of inundated land. The October 9, 2010, image shows conditions before the flooding. Green tones represent vegetation, much of it wheat crops. Blue and black tones represent water bodies, either lakes or the track of meandering rivers.
In the December 12 image, the lakes have expanded, the rivers are significantly larger, and, noted by the darker tones, low lands and agricultural fields are saturated.