Canterbury storm seen from space

Effects of last week's floods captured by satellite

SARAH-JANE O’CONNOR
Last updated 17:00 10/03/2014
Nasa's Aqua satellite image of Canterbury
Supplied/Earth Observatory, Nasa
BLUE BORDER: On March 6, the first clear day after last week’s floods, the satellite shows the sedimentation of coastal waters around Canterbury.
Nasa's Aqua satellite image of Canterbury
Supplied/Earth Observatory, Nasa
PRE-STORM: Canterbury as seen on February 22, 2014, from Nasa’s Aqua satellite, 705 kilometres above New Zealand.

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Last week's storm was so powerful its after-effects were visible from space.

After heavy rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, the skies were clear enough by Thursday for Nasa's Aqua satellite to capture an image of Canterbury, complete with aftermath of the storm.

Sediments disturbed by the wind and rain were churned up and discoloured the coastal waters around Canterbury. Post-storm, the sediment flowing into the surrounding waters showed up as an aquamarine colour.

National Institute of Water and Atmosphere Research (Niwa) scientists use images from the satellite to monitor environmental factors, including run-off from the land and locations of phytoplankton.

Niwa principal scientist Matt Pinkerton said the Aqua satellite passed over New Zealand about 1.30pm every day at a height of 705 kilometres.

The satellite was launched in 2002, and was named for the scientific data it is used to collect on the Earth's water cycle, including evaporation from the oceans, ice and snow cover and water vapour in the atmosphere.

Environment Canterbury commissioned Niwa scientists to use the satellite images to assess river plumes entering the nearby coastal waters from Canterbury's rivers.

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- The Press

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