Satellite observations of the severe floods in Pakistan

In August 2022, severe floods hit Pakistan and 33 million people in worst disaster in a decade, as reported by UN-OCHA and headline media. The CEMS Global Flood Monitoring (GFM) monitors extent and progression of the flood, using near-real-time Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite-based radar imagery.

Heavy rainfall accumulation since mid-June fed by unusual extra monsoon cycles laid the foundation for the humanitarian disaster. Local floods have onset in July, and have developed into massive floods that envelope a great portion of Pakistan’s populous lowlands, roughly comparative to the size of Portugal.

Pakistan’s outstanding monsoonal wetness is also well observed by the soil moisture data of the H SAF service. Monthly anomalies compare average July 2022 soil water saturation against the reference period 2007-21 and show strong wet deviations for Pakistan and neighbouring western India.

The joint analysis of satellite radar-based flood and soil moisture observations allow for comprehensive and timely assessment of such crisis situations, says Bernhard Bauer-Marschallinger from the TU Wien Remote Sensing group, who works with his team and the GFM service on the flood monitoring system.

Link to full-sized image:

 Sept. 2, 2022

 Microwave Remote Sensing