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 coverage illustrates the widespread flooding. The September 28, 2010, image shows the region with "normal" water levels. The dark tones on the left represent lowlands along the Thompson River and Cooper Creek. The green shades represent vegetation growth, grasses along the lowlands, grain crops in the central portion, and Carnarvon National Park in the upper right. The December 1, 2010, image shows the expansion of river and creek systems (water bodies shown in blue.) The January 18, 2011, image shows the greatly expanded water systems. The Thompson River and Cooper Creek have saturated the lowlands, and the Wilson River, to the right of the image, has done major damage to crop lands and communities.

The Landsat data are being used by national and international organizations to measure the extent of the flood damage and to plan rehabilitation programs.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011