Once in a Millennium monsoon rains, partially driven by climate change have ravaged China and tested its aging water infrastructure. More than 2 million people have been relocated in China to date due to flooding, with many more at risk of losing their homes.

Since June, dams have had to release floodwater, causing devastation downstream as they struggle to hold back rising floodwater. In particular the Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydroelectric dam in the world, has needed to discharge floodwaters after excess rains pushed water levels in China’s rivers basin and other tributaries to critical levels.

This discharge has caused major flooding downstream and displaced millions.

Satellite images show the release of water from Three Gorge Dams on multiple dates to release excess flood water.

As the Three Gorge Dam releases waters on the Yangtze River, a smaller Gezhouba Dam which is around 26 kilometers southeast and downstream of the Three Gorge Dam also opens its gates to release floodwaters.

With the release of floodwater from major dams along the Yangtze river, multiple areas were flooded and affected millions of residents along the Yangtze river basin. This flooding was captured by cloud penetrating, all-weather Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite imagery and processed using advanced flood detection techniques.

Sentinel 1A Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) processed satellite image shows various floodings across the river banks and tributaries of the Yangtze River in Hubei China due to continuous monsoon rains.

As seen from the Synthetic Aperture Radar imagery, there are multiple areas of flooding detected on river basins, river tributaries, freshwater lakes, agricultural fields, and even water reservoirs. With the use of optical satellite imagery, we can confirm these floods and see in detail the affected population and properties due to the intense heavy rains.

Optical satellite imagery captured along the Yangtze river basin shows areas that have been affected by flooding due to intense heavy rainfall.

Flooding along the Yangtze river banks of Dianjun district

Flooding along the Yangtze river banks of Yidu

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Flooding along the Yangtze river banks of Zhijiang

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Flooding along the Yangtze river banks of Gong’an County

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Various pre and post-flooding satellite imagery captured along the downstream channel of three Gorge Dam Yangtze River basin.