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.
Image of the Week
Images found during the week that show change from our past that correlate to current events.
Landsat satellite data, acquired and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey, illustrate the changes in land surface conditions in southern Mauritania. For decades a major drought impacted the vegetation growth in the region. Light tones in the 1992 image represent limited vegetation and significant areas of bare soil. The darker green tones in the northern portion of the scene and along the river basins represent more vigorous growth of grasses and relatively small trees.
The Paraguay-Parana River system is the second largest river system in South America — second only to the Amazon. More than 100 million people and some of the rarest species on Earth depend on healthy waters of the Paraguay-Parana River system for survival.
The middle Parana River forms the country boundaries of Paraguay and Argentina in South America. A joint project between the countries began in December of 1983 with construction of the Yacyreta Dam. Also named Hydroelectric Power Station Jasyreta-Apipe, the power plant began operating in 1994.
Landsat satellite data, acquired and distributed by the U.S. Geological Survey, are being used to monitor the flooding in Australia.
The Great Artesian Basin in Central Queensland has been subjected to the worst flooding in modern history. By late January, 35 people died as a result of the flooding and over $5 billion in damage was recorded. The region, considered the beef "capital" of Australia as well as a major coal production area, has been paralyzed by closed roads and inundated fields.
Landsat 5 data, acquired over the Gulf of Carpentaria, illustrate the dramatic effects of flooding in this northern region of Australia.
The coastal area of the Gulf is a major resort area, as well as a source for extensive bauxite and manganese excavation. The (left to right) Nicholson, Leichhart, Flinders, and Carron Rivers drain from the central lowlands of Queensland into the Gulf, eventually flowing into the Arafura Sea. The light tone along the sea coast shows the rare example of an epicontinental sea, a shallow sea on top of the continent extension.
Mining Expansion in Western Australia
These Landsat images, acquired and distributed by the U.S. Geological Survey, show the changes to the jarrah (Eucalyptus) vegetation in the Muja State Forest around the small mining town of Collie in Western Australia. Expanding coal mines, power stations, and an alumina mine surround the urban area, and changes to the land can be seen when comparing these images acquired in 1990 and 2011.
Urban Development in Bahrain
Landsat satellite data show a remarkable series of changes to Bahrain Island in the Arabian Gulf region.
In the 2000 image irrigated fields and urban development cover the northern portion of the island. The central and southern areas are largely desert regions. By 2010 the development and irrigation had expanded significantly. Road networks and an additional airport (noted by the straight line of the runway) have been added.
"Green" Cropland in Northwest China
These Landsat images, acquired and distributed by the U.S. Geological Survey, show the increase in cropland areas north of the Borohoro Mountains/ Tian Shan Range in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of Northwest China from 1989 to 2010.
Wax Lake Delta, Louisiana
Landsat satellite data have proven useful for monitoring the development of sediment-established land in the Wax Lake Delta region in Louisiana. The delta, which marks where the Atchafalaya River flows into the Gulf of Mexico, was formed by deposition of sediment following the construction of a canal through Wax Lake in 1941.
Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it has also served as a model for delta re-growth in the Mississippi River delta region for restoring wildlife habitat and protection against storm surge.
Great Salt Lake - 1985-2010