EarthView–Landsat 8 Imagery Reveals Heavy Flooding in Sri Lanka

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From the Fort McMurray wildfire, our EarthView turns now to flooding in Sri Lanka...

EarthViews is a continuing series in which we share a USGS Image of the Week featuring the USGS/NASA Landsat program. From the artistry of Earth imagery to natural and human-caused land change over time, check back every Friday to finish your week with a visual flourish!

Image shows side-by-side images of flooding in Sri Lanka
On May 18, 2016, a Landsat 8 acquisition of flood-ravaged Sri Lanka produced impressive imagery of swollen waterways. 

The EarthView: Landsat 8 Imagery Reveals Heavy Flooding in Sri Lanka

Description:

On May 18, 2016, a Landsat 8 acquisition of flood-ravaged Sri Lanka produced impressive imagery of swollen waterways.

A pattern of torrential rain that began May 15 in the island country just off the southern tip of India has caused massive landslides and flooding, the latter of which is evident when compared to a March 31, 2016, satellite image. Both of the images resulted from data acquired by the shortwave, near-infrared, and red bands (6,5,4) on Landsat 8's Operational Land Imager.

Officials in Sri Lanka's national Disaster Management Center say the heaviest rains in a quarter century forced 200,000 people out of the low-lying parts of the country's capital in Colombo, sent 400,000 fleeing to state-run relief camps, and covered entire villages in walls of mud. A history of clearing forests for agricultural use in Sri Lanka is a potential contributor to the destruction caused by the heavy rains and ensuing flooding.

The International Charter on Space and Major Disasters, of which USGS and EROS are members, was activated May 17 to provide Sri Lanka's government rapid access to Landsat and other satellite data for assessing the extent of damage and helping with disaster response. Future Landsat acquisitions will be part of this response.

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