A third of Pakistan is covered in floodwaters as the country suffers a devastating monsoon season. An inland lake seems to be forming around the southern Sindh province, satellite images show, while an existing lake has swelled dramatically.
Images taken by NASA’s MODIS satellite sensor in late August show the overflowing Indus River and an inland lake forming. They reveal the stark differences in Pakistan between August 2021 and August 2022.
This year’s chaotic monsoon rains have also affected Lake Manchar, Pakistan’s largest freshwater lake. It has overflowed several times, which has put about 100,000 residents in the path of more floodwater, according to the NASA Earth Observatory. The lake is just west of the Indus River in the Sindh province, which has seen more than five times its average rainfall this year. Images obtained by the Landsat 8 and Landsat 9 satellites show the differences in the overflowing lake on June 25, August 28, and September 5.
More than 30 million people across the country have been affected by the floods. About half a million people have been displaced and nearly 1,200 people have died, NBC News reports. Major roads and highways are unusable and some bridges have been washed away, making it harder for some to evacuate badly affected areas, the AP reports. This has also made it harder for emergency services to reach those in need, especially villagers whose homes have been completely washed away. People have begun setting up camp on roadsides and in abandoned buildings near their sunken homes in the hopes that they can eventually return, according to a release from the UN Refugee Agency.
Monsoon season, which is a regularly occurring rainy season in the tropics, usually begins in June and continues until the end of September throughout Pakistan. Communities there know to expect this, but climate change has messed with the intensity. Warmer air holds more moisture, and extreme rainfall events are occurring more frequently. Some monsoon seasons are also occurring earlier or shifting when they begin and end, giving people in those areas little time to adjust and prepare. This leads to more displacement and death, especially for poorer communities with limited resources.
“The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids — the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding,” UN Secretary General António Guterres said last week in response to this year’s destructive season.