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NASA Provides Satellite Data To Aid Louisiana Flood Response

May 28, 2011

NASA is providing critical satellite data to help residents in south Louisiana as they deal with a rising Mississippi River.

Data from NASA satellites is capturing the spread of water and sediment following the opening of the Bonnet Carr© and the Morganza water control spillways. The data will help Louisiana officials as they respond to flooding caused by the spillway openings. Both water control structures were opened recently to help divert high Mississippi River waters from major south Louisiana cities. It was the first time in 38 years that the Morganza structure had been opened.

NASA provided the data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite in response to a request by the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, La. It is part of an ongoing commitment by NASA’s Applied Science and Technology Project Office to use data from agency satellites to help communities address issues of concern, such as forest management and coastal erosion.

Recent satellite data captured by NASA shows large sediment plumes across coastal Louisiana as a result of the opening of the two spillways and where the Mississippi River meet the Gulf of Mexico. The data is being used by the USGS National Wetlands Research Center helping Louisiana officials better understand the impacts to the La. waterways and Gulf of Mexico. “NASA satellites like Aqua and the USGS-operated Landsat are crucial in providing information to help monitor the extent and the effects of natural hazards, like floods and hurricanes,” said Bill Graham, a NASA researcher at John C. Stennis Space Center. “These sensors allow managers to have a better perspective of regional impacts in a timely fashion.”

NASA’s Applied Sciences & Technology Project Office at Stennis is a lead in the space agency Earth science efforts throughout the Gulf of Mexico region.

Image Caption: This is a color-enhanced, composite image taken from Aqua MODIS on May 17. Because this is a false-color image, not all surfaces are depicted as they would appear to the human eye. Vigorously growing vegetation, such as along flood plains and agriculture, is shown as green. Urban areas are shown as brighter grays and white. Clear water, such as that in the deep Gulf or Mexico, is shown as dark, while the turbid water out of the mouth of the Mississippi is milky tan to brown. However, forested and suburban areas are not well-distinguished by this band combination and as such have the complex and mottled appearance. Credit: Courtesy of NASA

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