NASA satellite shows sediment from flooding

Satellite images show large amounts of sediment throughout coastal Louisiana as a result of flooding on the Mississippi River, according to recent U.S. Geological Survey and NASA data.

USGS and NASA are providing satellite imagery to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the State of Louisiana to assist with the flood response efforts.

Satellite images show three large areas of sediment, or plumes, moving through the floodwaters across Louisiana. The opening of the Bonnet Carré water control structure caused a plume that is located in Lake Pontchartrain. Another plume was the combined result of the Morganza spillway being opened and flooding on the Atchafalaya River. The third plume can be seen where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico, also known as the Mississippi Delta.

“The current focus is the protection of life and property but we are also trying to learn more about how events like this impact the coastal ecosystems,” said Phil Turnipseed, Director of the USGS National Wetlands Research Center. “If we can better understand how sediments move into the wetlands, then we could create more effective restoration projects."

NASA provided the data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instrument flying on NASA's Aqua satellite in response to a request by the USGS National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, La. This is part of an ongoing commitment by NASA’s Applied Science and Technology Project Office at the John C. Stennis Space Center, Bay St. Louis, to use data from agency satellites to help communities address issues of concern, such as forest management and coastal erosion.

“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, NASA researcher located at the Stennis Space Center. “These sensors allow managers to have a better perspective of regional impacts in a timely fashion.”