Science

Devastating floods in Pakistan from space (satellite photo)

Pakistan’s pain caused by flooding is visible from space.

Heavy monsoon rains this summer turned many of Pakistan’s rivers into torrents that washed away much of the mountainous country’s infrastructure. The floods have killed more than 1,100 people and damaged more than a million homes since June, according to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Agency. (will open in a new tab).

Satellites are helping the world monitor this unfolding disaster, which has already affected 33 million of Pakistan’s 240 million people, according to CNN. (will open in a new tab). For example, San Francisco-based Planet on Monday (August 29) tweeted before and after pictures of two areas flooded by dirty floodwaters.

Related: Photos of the Earth from the planet’s satellites from space (gallery)

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“Devastating floods caused by unusually heavy monsoon rains are raging across Pakistan. Before and after images of Mianwali and part of the Kabul River taken by PlanetScope show massive destruction,” Planet wrote on Twitter. (will open in a new tab).

PlanetScope is the company’s constellation of approximately 130 Dove Earth observation cubesats, each about the size of a loaf of bread. Pigeons may be small, but they are quite keen; Cubesats are capable of resolving details up to 3 meters across from their perch in low Earth orbit.

Flooding in the Pakistani city of Mianwali, recorded by the Planet satellite on August 2. 28, 2022.

Flooding in the Pakistani city of Mianwali, recorded by the Planet satellite on August 2. 28, 2022. (Image credit: Planet Labs PBC)

Major government satellites are also monitoring floods in Pakistan, including two spacecraft that make up Sentinel-2, a mission that is part of the European Union’s Copernicus Earth Observation Program.

“The apocalyptic situation caused by the ongoing #floods in #Pakistan is visible from the #Copernicus #Sentinel2 orbit at an altitude of 786 km. [488 miles] in space. This is what the Jafarabad district looked like in the picture taken on August 29, 2022,” Copernicus representatives said today (August 30) in a Twitter message. (will open in a new tab) who shared images of the devastated region.

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The floods in Pakistan are another example of extreme weather events that experts say are partly caused by anthropogenic climate change. António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, urged the world to look at the catastrophe through this lens and take appropriate action, both in the short term to help Pakistan and in the long term to help the world at large. .

“Let’s stop dreaming about the destruction of our planet due to climate change,” Guterres said yesterday, according to CNN. “Today it is Pakistan. Tomorrow it could be your country.”

Mike Wall is the author of Out There (will open in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrations by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or on facebook (will open in a new tab).

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