In late summer 2002, heavy monsoon rains led to massive flooding in eastern India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, killing over 500 people and leaving millions homeless. This series of true- and false-color images acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra spacecraft begins on August 5, 2002, and shows the extent of this flooding.
In the upper right-hand corner of the Aug.5 image, the swollen Brahmaputra River runs east to west through the Indian state of Assam. Normally, the river and its tributaries would resemble a tangle of thin lines. Moving to the upper left-hand corner, flooding can be seen along the Ganges River in the state of Bihar, India.
Both of these rivers flow into Bangladesh along with many others from India and Nepal. Heavy monsoon rains from all across the region have inundated the small country with water this year. Floodwaters have all but covered northeastern Bangladesh, which is usually dry. The Jamuna River, which runs down the center of the country off of the Brahmaputra River, now resembles a narrow lake. Millions of dollars in crops have been destroyed and thousands of people have been left stranded in their villages or on rafts. Forecasters are warning that flooding could get worse.
In the false-color images, land is green or orange, and water is dark blue to black. Clouds appear pink, red and white.
Over the next few months, the flood waters receded slowly. Note that the standing water in eastern Bangladesh was still widespread in November.