This series of Terrand And Aqua MODIS images from August 2002 shows flooding in the Mekong River Delta in southeast Asia. In the false-color images black represents open water, green represents land, cyan represents low-level water clouds, white represents high-level ice clouds, and bright blue represents flooding in the marshlands. Notice that the river—s outflows into the sea are the same bright blue color as the flooded, inland areas. That is because in both cases, the color is the result of sunlight inbterating with soil (sediment) and water. In these images from August 1, 28, and 29, 2002, Cambodia is in the image center, and Vietnam is at right.
The Mekong River flows from Cambodia down into southern Vietnam, where it breaks into four smaller rivers to form the Mekong Delta and empty into the South China Sea. The flooding is due to heavy seasonal rains that last from July to November. The flooding is occurring in low-lying areas used to grow crops such as rice, and this year the normal seasonal rains have been augmented by run-off from massive floods in China. As can be seen in the center of the August 28 and 29 images, the river delta now resembles a lake straddling the border of Vietnam and Cambodia.
So far 18 people in Cambodia have been killed and several thousand throughout the region have been evacuated from their homes. Cambodian officials, however, fear the worst damage could come from the loss of crops. The floods are arriving on the heels of one of the worst droughts in 20 years. The combination of the two could lead to a food shortage in Cambodia, which could affect hundreds of thousands of people. Normally, the Mekong River and its delta would resemble a serpent-like entanglement of broad lines (August 1).