Image of the Week

Images found during the week that show change from our past that correlate to current events.

Mississippi River Delta

Seasonal flooding in the lower Mississippi River Basin 

Seasonal flooding is fairly common in the lower Mississippi River Basin in south central United States. Landsat satellite data are used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state officials to monitor the extent and the timing of periodic flooding. 

In the March 2010 image rivers in the Basin (including portions of Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee) are at normal levels. The green tones along river lowlands mark marshy, grassy vegetation and water saturated soils. 

April Fires in Western Texas

April Fires in Western Texas 

Extreme drought and high winds have fueled many wildfires in west Texas recently. More than a dozen fires have scorched at least 400 sq miles of land since April 14, 2011. 

As seen by the large, dark tone in the April 16, 2011 image above, the Rock House fire has scorched more than 120,000 acres and ravaged dozens of structures in and around Fort Davis. Scars from other fires can also be seen in the image. 


Chernobyl 1986-2011

In April 1986 the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant experienced a major problem. The reactors had partial meltdowns and protective casings were destroyed. As a precaution, the nearby city (population 50,000) of Pripyat was abandoned and another 180,000 residents in the region were relocated.

Landsat satellite data acquired during the accident were used to illustrate conditions at the plant. The value of Landsat data acquisitions was thus proven and became a major boost to the importance of global Landsat coverage.

Mexico Fires

Fires Burn Northern Mexico

A severe drought that affected Texas in 2011 also produced wildfires south of the border in Mexico. On March 16, 2011, lightning started two large fires in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila. These fires were so close to Texas that the United States provided assistance in suppressing them. The northwestern portion of the scene is in Texas, and the rest is Coahuila.

Memphis Flood

Mississippi River Flooding

Landsat satellite data recorded major flooding in the Memphis, Tennessee, area on May 10, 2011. The Mississippi River crested at 47.87 feet on May 10. That crest represents the second highest rise in recent history; the highest recorded was 48.7 feet in 1937.

The Landsat data are being used to monitor the flood rate and the effects of the flooding in the region. Five surrounding counties have been declared disaster areas and the costs of the flooding will approach $1 billion.

Flood Diversion Measures Along the Lower Mississippi River

The lower Mississippi River is rising to nearly the record height of 1927. To relieve pressure on downstream levees protecting Baton Rouge and New Orleans, gates at the Morganza Spillway were opened. The water released is inundating the Atchafalaya River Basin, displacing more than 25,000 residents, and flood levels are expected to continue rising through late May.

Regrowth in Australia after Massive Bushfires

A series of bushfires ignited in the Australian state of Victoria in early February 2009. The fires occurred during a record-breaking heat wave and extremely dry conditions and resulted in Australia.s highest loss of life from bushfires ever recorded. Many injuries were also reported. As many as 400 individual fires were recorded on February 7, 2009, alone. Since the fires, that day has widely been referred to as Black Saturday.

Portage Diversion, Lake Manitoba

The Portage Diversion system (also known as the Assiniboine River Floodway) was constructed in 1970 to divert the flow of water in the Assiniboine River to an 18-mile diversion channel that empties into Lake Manitoba.

In mid-May of 2011, the diversion channel was opened to help prevent flooding in the Winnipeg urban area. That action eased pressure on downstream dikes. The channel was closed in late May.


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