Pakistan’s Deluge: NASA Story Compares Satellite Images from August 4 and 28; and Links to Aga Khan University and Focus Humanitarian Donation Pages

Featured Image at top of post: The floods in Pakistan have turned plains into seas. The featured image shows the district of Qambar on August 4, 2022 (left) and on August 28 (right). The following piece has been adapted from the NASA website. To read the article on NASA that contains additional information and features, please click Devastating Floods in Pakistan – Ed.]

Story by SARA E. PRATT
NASA Earth Observatory Images by JOSHUA STEVENS

using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey and VIIRS data from NASA EOSDIS LANCEGIBS/Worldview, and the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS).

Since mid-June 2022, Pakistan has been drenched by extreme monsoon rains that have led to the country’s worst flooding in a decade. According to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority, the floods have affected more than 33 million people and destroyed or damaged more than 1 million houses. At least 1,100 people were killed by floodwaters that inundated tens of thousands of square kilometers of the country.

Satellite Image August 4, 2022

The Floods in Pakistan Satellite Images from NASA

Satellite Image August 28, 2022

The Floods in Pakistan Satellite Images from NASA

The false-color images above were acquired by the Operational Land Imagers aboard the Landsat 8 and Landsat 9 satellites on August 4 and 28, respectively. The images combine shortwave infrared, near infrared, and red light (bands 6-5-4) to better distinguish flood waters (deep blue) beyond their natural channels.

The worst flooding occurred along the Indus River in the provinces of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Sindh. The provinces of Balochistan and Sindh have so far this year received five to six times their 30-year average rainfall. Most of that arrived in summer monsoon rains.

Across the country, about 150 bridges and 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) of roads have been destroyed, according to ReliefWeb. More than 700,000 livestock and 2 million acres of crops and orchards have also been lost.

Satellite Image August 31, 2022

The Floods in Pakistan Satellite Images from NASA

The image above (the white rectangle denotes the area shown in the Landsat overview in the previous images), acquired by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the NOAA-20 satellite on August 31, 2022, shows the extent of flooding in the region. The image uses a combination of near-infrared and visible light to make it easier to see where rivers are out of their banks and spread across floodplains.

The immense volume of rain- and meltwater inundated the dams, reservoirs, canals, and channels of the country’s large and highly developed irrigation system. On August 31, the Indus River System Authority authorized some releases from dams because the water flowing in threatened to exceed the capacity of several reservoirs.

In the southern reaches of the Indus watershed, the deluge has turned plains into seas. The following two detailed images show the districts of Qambar and Shikarpur in Sindh province, which from July 1 to August 31 received 500 percent more rainfall than average.

Qambar and Shikarpur Districts on August 4 and August 28

The Floods in Pakistan Satellite Images from NASA
Qambar on August 4, 2022 (left) and on August 28 (right). Also shown as feature image at top of this post
The Floods in Pakistan Satellite Images from NASA
Shikarpur on August 4, 2022 (left) and on August 28 (right).

The effect of the monsoon rains has been compounded by the continued melting of Pakistan’s 7,000 glaciers. The country holds the most glacial ice found outside the polar regions. Climate warming and recent heat waves have precipitated several glacial-outburst floods. In the rugged northern part of the country, the combined rain and meltwater has turned slopes into hill torrents.

On August 30, the Pakistani government declared a national emergency and, with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, called for international aid for humanitarian relief efforts.

Pakistan last faced such dramatic and widespread flooding in 2010.

Date posted: September 2, 2022.
Last updated: September 2, 2022 (6 AM EDT, see correction note below)

Correction: The title in the original version of the post suggested that all the images shown above were taken by NASA satellites. As is very clear in the story, the images are from more than one source, and the title has been revised accordingly. The editor apologizes for the oversight.


(profiles and profile photos from NASA website)

Sara Pratt NASA Pakistan Floods Story
Sara Pratt

Sara Pratt has been a science writer for the NASA Earth Observatory since 2021. She is a former senior editor of EARTH Magazine, and her work has appeared in Eos, Oceanus, NOVA, and Discover. She also has editorial experience in science educational publishing. Sara holds a bachelor’s degree in geology and environmental studies from Penn and dual master’s degrees in earth & environmental science journalism from Columbia. She enjoys writing about any aspect of earth science but is most interested in coastal and marine geology, oceanography, and climate science.

Sara lives in Colorado, where she enjoys skiing, hiking, camping, and touring the geology of the West and the National Parks with her husband and two children.

Joshua Stevens NASA Pakistan Floods Satellite Images
Joshua Stevens

Since 2015, Joshua Stevens has been the lead visualizer of the NASA Earth Observatory. He has researched and taught cartographic design, geovisual analytics, and remote sensing for more than a decade. He was the lead author of the 2012 update to the online geography textbook, Mapping Our Changing World. His work has been featured by a variety of media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Geographic, and the Discovery Channel.

Joshua was an NSF IGERT Fellow in big data social science at The Pennsylvania State University, where he pursued a Ph.D. in geography. He also earned a master’s in geography and a bachelor’s degree in geographic information science at Michigan State University. Joshua is a member of the North American Cartographic Information Society, and he enjoys geocaching, photography, and spending time with his wife and two children.



1. The Aga Khan University: Flood Response Fund

2. Donate Now: Focus Humanitarian Canada; USA; and UK and Europe

3. The Ismaili: Jamati and AKDN institutions mobilise in response to Pakistan floods

4. Focus Humanitarian’s Response to Flooding in Pakistan

5. Simerg: Aga Khan University Sets Up Pakistan Flood Response Fund as UN Secretary General Declares “Pakistan is Awash in Suffering”


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Aga Khan University Sets Up Pakistan Flood Response Fund as UN Secretary General Declares “Pakistan is Awash in Suffering, People Facing a Monsoon on Steroids”; Please Donate in Pakistan’s Hour of Need


Seal of the Aga Khan University
Seal of the Aga Khan University

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Pakistan has mobilised its agencies to provide relief to those affected by the catastrophic floods in Pakistan. The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat’s early warning system and a team trained Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers helped safely evacuate more than 8,000 people in the catastrophic floods.

The Aga Khan University has set up a Flood Response Fund. Please click HERE and joins hands with the AKU in supporting the citizen’s of Pakistan in their hour of need. Your contribution can be made in any one of the following currencies: Pakistani Rupee, US and CDN Dollars, British Pound, Euro, and United Arab Emirates Dhirham.

Again, click DONATE NOW to make your donation via the website of the Aga Khan University.


[Much of the material that follows below is reproduced from reports by Voice of America’s Lisa Schlein who is based in Geneva. Her full reports on the floods can be read HERE and HERE — Ed.]

“Pakistan is Awash in Suffering”

“Pakistan is awash in suffering. The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids — the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding,” warned U.N. Secretary General (UNSG) Antonio Guterres in a pre-recorded video message (read transcript). He continued, “Millions are homeless, schools and health facilities have been destroyed, livelihoods are shattered, critical infrastructure wiped out, and people’s hopes and dreams have been washed away.” The U.N., together with the Pakistani government, launched a $160 million flash funding appeal on Tuesday, August 30, simultaneously in Islamabad and Geneva. Guterres said the U.N.’s flash appeal will help provide 5.2 million people with food, water sanitation, emergency education, protection and health support in the South Asian nation.

Story continues below

Displaced people float belongings salvaged from flood-hit homes through a flooded area, on the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan. Photogrpah: AP via the Voice of America “Day in Photos

The UNSG said that South Asia is one of the world’s global “climate crisis hotspots” and people living in these hotspots are 15 times likely to die from climate impacts. “Let’s stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change. Today, it’s Pakistan. Tomorrow, it could be your country,” Gutteres warned. Torrential rains have been pounding Pakistan since June. The government estimates some 33 million people have been affected and that more than 1,000 have died, among them hundreds of children. Jens Laerke, spokesman for the U.N. office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs, said nearly one million homes have been damaged, and more than 700,000 livestock lost in what is seen as the worst flooding in decades.

“Some 500,000 people displaced by the floods are sheltering in relief camps, with many more living with host families,” he said. “Access to assistance is difficult due to the flooding and landslides, with around 150 bridges washed away and nearly 3,500 kilometers of roads damaged.”

Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), leading the country’s response in coordinating assessments and directing humanitarian relief to affected people, has listed 72 out of the country’s 160 districts as calamity-hit. More than 33 million residents there have been affected, tens of thousands of others displaced, with massive losses inflicted on key cash crops. Pakistani officials informed Tuesday’s event that the economic impact of the flooding could reach at least $10 billion, and may require years to rehabilitate victims. Some countries, including China, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, have already sent cargo planes that are carrying tents, food, medicines and other relief supplies, and rescue teams. More relief aid is on the way, according to Pakistani officials.

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Displaced families line up to receive food as they take refuge on a roadside after fleeing their flood-hit homes in Sohbat Pur city, a district of Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, Aug. 30, 2022. Photogrpah: AP via the Voice of America.

The International Rescue Committee anticipates a sharp increase in food insecurity and a severe impact on the national economy. “Our needs assessment showed that we are already seeing a major increase in cases of diarrhea, skin infections, malaria and other illnesses,” the group said in a statement.

Pakistan is home to more than 7,000 glaciers, but experts warn rising global temperatures are causing them to melt fast, creating thousands of glacial lakes. The South Asian nation says it is responsible for only less than 1% of greenhouse gas emissions but listed among the top ten countries suffering from the climate change effects.

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) said it was working closely with Pakistani authorities to help assess the flood damage using remote sensing and satellite imagery to support prioritization of humanitarian responses. “The unprecedented and early heatwave this year also accelerated the melting of glaciers in the Himalaya, Hindu Kush and Karakoram mountain ranges, creating thousands of glacial lakes in northern Pakistan, around 30 of which could cause a deluge,” said Mohsin Hafeez, the country representative for the IWMI.

In the meantime, the World Meteorological Organization forecasts the heavy rains are set to continue. WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis said the worst rainfall in decades follows the worst drought in decades, and the worst heatwave in decades. “Even before the latest flooding incident, Pakistan and northwest India had been witnessing above average monsoon rainfall.…This is the footprint of climate change,” she said. “The weather is becoming more extreme.”

The World Health Organization warns of disease outbreaks, such as cholera and diarrhea because of the flooding and lack of safe drinking water. WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said at least 888 health facilities have been damaged, including 180 that have been destroyed. He said this will make it difficult for anyone affected to receive treatment.

“All the noncommunicable diseases will severely lack support,” he said. “People cannot reach health facilities for simple things like diabetes. Women in pregnancy or giving birth have immense problems having safe access to health facilities or even having safe hygiene situations.”

The country is in a state of emergency, with Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman describing the situation as a climate-induced humanitarian disaster. She tweeted on August 28: “Pakistan has never seen an unbroken cycle of monsoons like this. 8 weeks of non-stop torrents have left huge swathes of the country under water. This is no normal season, this is a deluge from all sides, impacting 33 million plus people, which is the size of a small country.”



The Aga Khan University has set up a Flood Response Fund. Please click DONATE NOW and joins hands with the AKU in supporting the citizen’s of Pakistan in their hour of need. Your contribution can be made in any one of the following currencies: Pakistani Rupee; US and CDN Dollars; British Pound; Euro; and United Arab Emirates Dhirham.

Date posted: August 31, 2022.


We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please click on Leave a comment. Your feedback may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters. Simerg’s editor Malik Merchant may be reached via email at