Before and After: Flooding of Nagatsura

Video Player

Video Versions

A sequence of satellite images captured before, just after, and a year following the 2011 tsunami  reveal resulting changes in the landscape near Nagatsura, Japan.

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

·       Globe animation: STScI
·       Earth-Observing 1 and Terra satellite images of Nagatsura: Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using ALI data from the EO-1 team, data from the NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Written by Leah Ramsay
Designed by Dani Player and Leah Hustak
Editorial and design input from Margaret W. Carruthers, Timothy Rhue II, John Godfrey, and Claire Blome
Music courtesy of Associated Production Music

A lush green forest by bodies of water becomes brown and sickly. The North polar ice cap recedes. Text, Before and After, Flooding of Nagatsura. 
The Earth spins in space. Nagatsura, Miyagi, Japan is pointed out in the North western Pacific Ocean. Zooming into it, a river delta surrounded by striking red mountains. Flooding of Nagatsura, Japan, January 2011. 
In this infrared NASA Terra satellite image, hillside vegetation appears red and fallow farms are light brown, in contrast with the blue bay and river. 
Two months after this image was taken, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake shook the seafloor 80 miles off the coast. 
The small town of Nagatsura and surrounding farmlands were swamped by a tsunami. Farmland is highlighted along the river banks. 
The entire delta is filled with water in a March 2011 image. Three days later, the Terra satellite captured the devastating flooding. Steep, narrow bays like the Oppa trap and focus the energy of incoming tsunami waves. 
Huge volumes of water were pushed inland, nearly 30 miles up the Kitakami River. 
Nearly a year later, NASA's Earth Observing-1 satellite shows that the Kitakami River is back within its banks, but the farms north and east of Nagatsura have become a river bottom. A February 2012 image shows reduced water levels, except at the mouth of the delta. 
All three images show a side by side comparison of the impact of the tsunami.