Kerala floods: NASA’s before and after satellite images show scale of devastation

Kerala floods: NASA’s before and after satellite images show scale of devastation

With the Kerala floods making news across the globe, US space agency NASA has released “before and after” photographs depicting the extent to which the natural calamity has affected the landscape of the southern state.

While the “before” image was taken by the Landsat 8 satellite’s operational land imager on February 6, the “after” one was clicked by the multispectral instrument on the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 satellite last Wednesday. The changes in the scenario, as expected, is stark.

The second image shows several rivers through the region spilled over their banks, and water from the Karuvannur river running through 40 villages to wash away a 2.2-km stretch of land connecting two national highways. It also gives a glimpse of the Periyar river, which breached its banks — displacing thousands in the process.

The images have been rendered in false-color, making flood water appear dark blue. Vegetation is depicted in bright green.

The space agency had earlier released satellite measurements of Kerala rainfall to demonstrate the crucial role played by the Western Ghats in triggering the climatic developments over south Karnataka and Kerala. “Although the extreme Himalayan topography is much more well-known, the Western Ghats is a contributing factor to the heavy rains along the southwest coast of India,” a statement from the Goddard Space Flight Centre read.

NASA researchers have also maintained that opening the dams in a systematic manner would have contained the deluge that caused largescale loss to life and property in Kerala.

While the death toll in the second spell of monsoon since August 8 has crossed 300, as many as 4,62,456 displaced people continue to languish in 1,435 camps across the state. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan recently estimated the financial loss incurred by Kerala in the whereabouts of Rs 20,000 crore.

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