acquired June 16, 2021
acquired July 18, 2021
Deadly Floods Surprise Europe
- Landsat 8 - OLI
- Data Date: July 18, 2021
- Visualization Date: July 19, 2021
Communities in Germany, Belgium, and The Netherlands are reeling after extreme July rainfall swamped parts of Western Europe. Some of the worst-hit areas saw as much as two months of rain within 24 hours—enough to break precipitation records, push rivers to new heights, and trigger devastating flash floods.
Nighttime downpours on July 14-15, 2021, proved especially damaging. Many people were asleep when the most intense rain fell, and they were caught off guard as rivers raged, dams failed, and floodwaters inundated homes. News media estimated that 196 people were killed by flooding and thousands more were injured. Hundreds of people are still listed as missing.
On July 18, 2021, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured this image of flooding along the Meuse and Roer rivers. As water levels rose, nearly 5,000 people were forced to evacuate from Roermond, a city in The Netherlands near the border with Germany. A dam breach on the Roer contributed to the extensive flooding.
While it will take some time for experts to analyze whether this event was influenced by human-caused global warming, scientists have amassed data showing that warming has led to more intense and frequent downpours in many parts of the world. Some researchers and meteorologists have also suggested that warming may be changing the jet stream in ways that make atmospheric "blocking" patterns—like the one that prolonged these downpours—more likely.
- BBC (2021, July 18) Europe floods: Victims face massive clean-up as waters recede. Accessed July 19, 2021.
- European Space Agency (2021, July 16) Satellites map floods in western Europe. Accessed July 19, 2021.
- Floodlist (2021, July 16) Germany — More Than 100 Fatalities Reported After Floods in Western States. Accessed July 19, 2021.
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2014) AR5 Synthesis Report. Accessed July 19, 2021.
- The New York Times (2021, July 18) ‘It Is All Connected’: Extreme Weather in the Age of Climate Change. Accessed July 19, 2021.
- NL Times (2021, July 15) Thousands flee as flash floods force evacuations in Roermond. Accessed July19, 2021.
- Science (2021, March 5) Why does the weather stall? New theories explain enigmatic ‘blocks’ in the jet stream. Accessed July 19, 2021.
- The Washington Post (2021, July 16) How weather patterns conspired for a flooding disaster in Germany. Accessed July 19, 2021.
- The Weather Channel (2021, July 17) Death Toll in Europe Flooding Climbs to More Than 180. Accessed July 19, 2021.
NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Story by Adam Voiland.
This image record originally appeared on the Earth Observatory. Click here to view the full, original record.