The Elbe (before flooding), Germany

The Elbe (before flooding), Germany
  • Credit:

    Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Heavy rains in Central Europe over the past few weeks have led to some of the worst flooding the region has seen in over 100 years. The floods have killed over 100 people in Germany, Russia, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic and have led to as much as $20 billion in damage. These true- and false-color images of the flooding of the Elbe and Danube Rivers and their tributaries were taken in August 18, 2002, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), flying aboard the Terra satellite.

In Dresden, Germany, portions of the Elbe River (blue line running from roughly the center of the image northwest toward the North Sea) rose from the usual summer high of 6 feet (1.8 meters) to over 30 feet (9.1 meters). The water, which reached levels not seen since 1845, seeped into the historic buildings and threatened precious works of art. City officials estimate that the damage to Dresden would probably exceed $100 million. As the floodwaters moved north over the weekend, thousands of people abandoned the cities of Magdeburge and Bitterfeld, Germany, and rescue workers lined exposed riverbanks with sandbags. German meteorologists expect the flooding to subside over the next week as little rain is expected.

In the false-color images, vegetation is green, water is dark blue or black, and clouds are light blue or white.

The images from July show the area prior to floods.

Images & Animations


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  • Data Date:

    July 28, 2002
  • Visualization Date:

    August 23, 2002
  • Sensor(s):

    Terra - MODIS
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration