World Of Change: Seasons of the Indus River Valley

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Based on Earth Observatory’s World of Change series, this segment uses a series of satellite images captured between 2009 and 2010 to show seasonal changes along the Indus River and its floodplain near Guddu, Pakistan. 

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with the NASA Earth Observatory (

A globe spins.
Text, Seasons of the Indus River Valley
Green patchwork farmland in a long valley.
Text, Seasons of the Indus River Valley, Pakistan. WORLD of CHANGE 2009-2010. The Indus River has supported agriculture in Pakistan and India for thousands of years.
Flowing south from the Himalayas, through Pakistan, and emptying into the Arabian Sea, the Indus is one of the longest rivers in Asia.
Aerial view of the river valley through Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.
Text, Fed by snowmelt, glaciers, and monsoon rains, the water level in the river fluctuates throughout the year.
During the wet season, farmers flood their fields to grow rice and other crops that need abundant water. During the drier season, they use water stored behind the river's dams to irrigate their fields and grow crops such as corn and wheat.
A series of images from the Landsat 5 satellite shows how a segment of the river in central Pakistan changes during the year. Fields are green when active, and brown when fallow. Notice the two distinct growing periods, in July-August and January-February.
Satellite image of area around the Indus River labeled GUDDU. An area to the side of the river is green. It borders the Guddu dam and canal. An area of fields to the north is brown. Beginning in June, the fields around the river begin to turn green. By September, almost the entire area is dark green.
In October, the fields become more brown. By January, they become dark greenish bluish.
In mid February, the entire area is dark green. By April, almost the entire area is brown.
In June, almost the entire area around the Guddu dam and canal is light brown.
Four side-by-side pictures of the area from September, 2009, December, 2009, April 2010, and June, 2010 change from dark green to pale brown.