This Is What 5 Meters Too Much Water Looks Like

After heavy rains, the Limpopo river in southern Mozambique has burst its banks, causing floods that have driven more than 150,000 people from their homes and killed at least 38, according to a UN official on Tuesday.

The inundation's devastating sprawl is clear in these false-colour images of the town of Chokwé taken by NASA's Terra satellite. They show infrared, red and green wavelengths of light. Below, the vegetation of the region's fields is deep green in an image from February 2005. Above, an image taken on 25 January this year - a few days after the river at Chokwé was logged at 5.6 metres above normal - shows that same farmland inundated with muddy water, here coloured lavender and pink.

The flood waters seem to be falling, but the damage they have caused will not go away as quickly. The provincial governor says that 32,000 hectares of crops have been lost, and in one camp 65,000 displaced people are sharing only 28 latrines.

To make matters worse, thousands of crocodiles are roaming free after escaping from a flooded crocodile farm in nearby northern South Africa. And it's far from the first bout of extreme weather we've seen around the world this year: for more, read our report "Drought, fire, ice: world is gripped by extreme weather".


This Is What 5 Meters Too Much Water Looks Like New Scientist reports, explores and interprets the results of human endeavour set in the context of society and culture, providing comprehensive coverage of science and technology news.