NASA images tsunami's effects on Northeastern Japan

Mar 14, 2011 By Alan Buis
Coastal flooding from the March 11, 2011 tsunami triggered by a magnitude 8.9 earthquake off Japan's northeast coast can be seen in this before/after image pair from the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft. Credit: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL

The extent of inundation from the destructive and deadly tsunami triggered by the March 11, 2011, magnitude 8.9 earthquake centered off Japan's northeastern coast about 130 kilometers (82 miles) east of the city of Sendai is revealed in this before-and-after image pair from the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft.

The image comparison is online at photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA13913 . For optimum viewing, click the link to open the full-resolution TIFF image.

The new image, shown on the right, was acquired at 10:30 a.m. local time (01:30 UTC) on March 12, 2011. For comparison, shown on the left is a MISR image from about 10 years ago, on March 16, 2001, acquired under nearly identical illumination conditions. Flooding extending more than 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) inland from the eastern shoreline is visible in the post-earthquake image. The white sand beaches visible in the pre-earthquake view are now covered by water and can no longer be seen. Among the locations where severe flooding is visible is the area around Matsukawa-ura Bay, located just north and east of the image center.

From top to bottom, each image extends from just north of the Abukuma River (about 21 kilometers, or 13 miles, south of Sendai) to south of the town of Minamisoma (population 71,000, located in Japan's Fukushima Prefecture about 70 kilometers, or 44 miles, south of Sendai). The images cover an area of 78 kilometers (48 miles) by 104 kilometers (65 miles).

These unique images enhance the presence of water in two ways. First, their near-infrared observations cause vegetated areas to appear red, which contrasts strongly with the blue shades of the water. Second, by combining nadir (vertical-viewing) imagery with observations acquired at a view angle of 26 degrees, reflected sunglint enhances the brightness of water, which is shown in shades of blue. This use of different view-angle observations causes a stereoscopic effect, where elevated clouds have a yellow tinge at their top edges and blue tinge at their bottom edges.

Explore further: NASA image: Volcanoes in Guatemala

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Space Image: Ghostly Encounter

Jun 29, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The surface of Saturn's moon Dione is rendered in crisp detail against a hazy, ghostly Titan. Visible in this image are hints of atmospheric banding around Titan's north pole.

Smoke From Station Fire Blankets Southern California

Sep 01, 2009

Triple-digit temperatures, extremely low relative humidities, dense vegetation that has not burned in decades, and years of extended drought are all contributing to the explosive growth of wildfires throughout ...

NASA's MISR Provides Unique Views of Gulf Oil Slick

May 21, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- New Gulf oil spill images from the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft paint dramatic portraits of different aspects of the growing spill.

NASA Images Show Oil's Invasion Along Louisiana Coast

Jun 03, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- By combining data from multiple cameras of JPL's MISR instrument on NASA's Terra satellite, scientists gain new perspectives on the spread of oil into Louisiana's fragile wetlands.

NASA shows topography of tsunami-damaged Japan city

Mar 14, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The topography surrounding Sendai, Japan is clearly visible in this combined radar image and topographic view generated with data from NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) acquired ...

Recommended for you

How productive are the ore factories in the deep sea?

14 hours ago

About ten years after the first moon landing, scientists on earth made a discovery that proved that our home planet still holds a lot of surprises in store for us. Looking through the portholes of the submersible ...

NASA image: Volcanoes in Guatemala

18 hours ago

This photo of volcanoes in Guatemala was taken from NASA's C-20A aircraft during a four-week Earth science radar imaging mission deployment over Central and South America. The conical volcano in the center ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Untangling Brazil's controversial new forest code

Approved in 2012, Brazil's new Forest Code has few admirers. Agricultural interests argue that it threatens the livelihoods of farmers. Environmentalists counter that it imperils millions of hectares of forest, ...

Study links California drought to global warming

While researchers have sometimes connected weather extremes to man-made global warming, usually it is not done in real time. Now a study is asserting a link between climate change and both the intensifying California drought ...

Genetic code of the deadly tsetse fly unraveled

Mining the genome of the disease-transmitting tsetse fly, researchers have revealed the genetic adaptions that allow it to have such unique biology and transmit disease to both humans and animals.