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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Super-Sized Monsoon

destructive floods hit South Asia during the annual pilgrimage to Indian sacred sites

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Saturday, June 22, 2013/Categories: natural history, environment, climate change

South Asian monsoons are typically a welcomed event bringing much need rains for crops, rivers, and cities. This year, however, a super-sized monsoon arrived with a vengeance to northern India and Nepal and destruction has been massive. Floods from the unusually severe downpours have left countless people dead and tens of thousands stranded in rugged Himalayan terrain.

A remote sensing camera captured two images of the region from the end of May to mid-June. The false-color photographs combine visible and infrared light making it easier to distinguish between water and land. Flood waters appear blue and vegetation in green.

 
   South Asia, 5-30-13 (credit: NASA)                         South Asia, 6-21-13 (credit: NASA)

The floods have also hit during annual pilgrimages to some of South Asia's holiest sites and temples dedicated to Lord Shiva along the Ganges River watershed. According to reports, one rescue operation centered on evacuating nearly 30,000 pilgrims trapped in a temple region of the Garhwal Himalayan range.


Another satellite data map combines rainfall totals for the region from June 14-20, 2013. The heaviest rainfall—greater than 12 inches—appears in dark blue. The lightest rainfall less than 1 inch appears in light green with trace amounts in light yellow. So far, there has been four-and-a-half times the typical amount of rain usually expected at this stage of the rainy season.
The monsoon peaks sometime in mid-July or early August.


Rainfall Totals, June 14-20, 2013 (credit: NASA)

Currently, all efforts are directed at rescuing people in the flooded regions. Later, people will likely re-visit regional climate models predicting that the number of extreme weather events will increase in number and severity as the atmosphere continues warming due to climate change.

WHB

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