EcoAlert: Pakistan’s Floods Worse in Recorded History: 20 Million Affected


Pakistan's floods, which began more than two weeks ago in the mountainous northwest, are the worst in recorded history. Some 20 million people and 160,000 sq km of land – about 1/5 of the country – have been affected by the disaster. The United Nations has now estimated that Pakistan will need billions of dollars to recover – further straining a country already dependent on foreign aid to prop up its economy and back its war against Islamist militants. Over 60,000 troops are involved in flood relief operations trying to assist nearly 20 million people who are now affected by the flooding. 

Europe's "water satellite" has provided a different perspective on the floods in Pakistan. The Smos spacecraft senses the wetness of soils, and its unique instrument has detailed how the earth became saturated in the monsoon rains. Data from the European Space Agency's new Smos satellite has been processed to make a series of maps. They show the ground getting progressively wetter, indicated by the shift from warmer (yellow/orange) to cooler (blue/grey) colours. The consistent blue in the south reflects the naturally wetter landscape that surrounds the Indus River where it enters the Arabian Sea.



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