One year after the tsunami sent water surging up the Kitakami River, floodwaters had subsided, the river was back within its banks, and many of the agricultural fields were dry again. However, evidence of the destructive episode remains etched in the landscape near the mouth of the river.
Before the tsunami, the small village of Nagatsura was located between the northern edge of a cove and a triangular tract of farmland near the mouth of the river. Only a narrow channel connected the cove, which was used for oyster aquaculture, to nearby Oppa Bay. The tsunami brought floodwater over the farmland, decimating Nagatsura and opening up a much wider channel between the cove and Oppa Bay.
A year later, the landscape near the mouth of the river remains irrevocably altered in comparison to how it looked before the disaster. The farmland immediately north and east of Nagatsura has become river bottom. The width of the river mouth has widened. And water from Oppa Bay has crept inland, leaving only a narrow strip of land and new islands near the river mouth.
The Advanced Land Imager (ALI), an instrument on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite, captured this image of the land along the Kitakami River on February 21, 2012. In the false-color image, vegetation appears red and fallow fields appear pale brown or gray.
- Tanaka, H. (2004, December) Field observation of salinity intrusion into nagatsura-ura lagoon. Proceedings of the 4th Congress of Environmental Hydraulics and the 14th Congress of APD-IAHR. 737-743
- Scott, Michon (2011). Flooding along the Kitakami River, Japan. Earth Observatory Accessed March 8, 2012.