India's Severe Floods Spied by Satellite

This image acquired June 21, 2013, shows the extent of flooding in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, with floodwater shown in dark blue. (Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using data from the Land Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE).)

An Earth-observing NASA satellite has captured images of northern India's devastating floods that have left hundreds of people dead this month.

India's seasonal monsoon kicked off with unusual intensity in the state of Uttarakhand, which borders Tibet and Nepal. From June 13 to June 19, an average of 12.68 inches (322 mm) of rain was dumped on the state, far more than the typical 1.34 inches (34 millimeters) of rainfall for this period, AccuWeather reported.

The inundation has triggered flash floods and landslides that have swept away homes, bridges and even entire villages. While rescue operations are underway to save thousands of people stranded by the flooding, Indian officials said they expect the death toll to pass 1,000 as the heavy rain continues, the BBC reported.

This image from May 30, 2013, was obtained before the severe flooding began. (Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using data from the Land Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE).)

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA's Aqua satellite observed the region from space on June 21, 2013, with the floodwaters shown in dark blue and vegetation in bright green.

An image from the same area obtained on May 30, 2013, shows just how much the Yamuna, Ganges and Ghaghara Rivers have spilled over in recent weeks.

The images combine visible and infrared light to throw the water and land into greater contrast, according to NASA's Earth Observatory. Himalayan glacier ice and snow can be traced in the pale blue to cyan veins in the top right corner of the images, while the light blue-green flecks in the lower left corner represent clouds.

Aqua was launched on May 4, 2002, and it carries six instruments to collect data on Earth's water cycle, including evaporation from oceans, clouds, precipitation, sea ice and snow cover.

Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Megan Gannon
Live Science Contributor
Megan has been writing for Live Science and since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.