Floods in Iran and Iraq - MODIS (January 16, 2004) | Satellite: Aqua
Floods in Iran and Iraq Iraq 500m (516 kb) | 250m (1,395 kb)

False Color
Floods in Iran and Iraq - False Color

Days of heavy rains have caused extensive flooding along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in the Persian Gulf. This false-color Aqua MODIS image from January 16, 2004, shows the region during the floods. Rolling over the image with your mouse shows the image before the flooding on December 24, 2003. In both images, liquid water appears black and dark blue, while clouds and frozen water (ice or snow) appear light and turquoise blue. Vegetation is shown in shades of green, while bare earth appears in shades of brown.

In the top image, the flooding has made many small lakes much more noticeable, such as the Hawr ad Dalmaj and the Hawr as Suwayqiyah in the image upper left. The Hawr as Squayqiyah and its headwaters are dark blue and have bright streaks pointing north where floodwaters have burst the banks of connected smaller rivers. Between ad Dalmaj and as Suwayqiyah is the Tigris River, which feeds into the marshlands north and east of the Hawr al Hammar, the large black lake in southern Iraq.

Prior to the 1990s, these marshlands (which appear brown in the flood image) were an agricultural center that supported a quarter million farmers. But in the 1990s, Saddam Hussein's government built a series of dams, dykes, and earthen barriers that all but eliminated the agricultural livelihood of those people. Today, they number around 20,000, and live on the 15 percent of natural marshland that remains near where the Tigris and Euphrates converge (between the two brown spots). Removal of those dams, dykes, and earthen barriers has contributed to the flooding in the region.

Flooding was also heavy in marshlands of western Iran (image center). All told, the floods killed at least six people and displaced over 8,000. The red dots scattered throughout the images mark the location of fires; some of which are likely to be at oil-wells.

Credit: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

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