back to article Europe's floods and fires snapped from space

The Thames bursts its banks: ESA The Thames bursts its banks: ESA The flooding in the UK is visible from space, and the European Space Agency (ESA) has the pictures to prove it. The agency's earth monitoring Envisat satellites have also snapped the fires raging across much of southern Europe. The flooding in the UK is the …


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  1. Tim Parker

    Links. Links. Links. Links.

    For those wondering but not wanting to look too hard, the links for the pictures are


    ..or follow the stuff from the ESA frontpage (

    Lucy - is there any particular reason you hardly (if ever) seem to add links to pictures (or other resources) in your stories ? It's not always difficult to find them, (although there were some that needed a bit of tracking down & some I just gave up on) but that's hardly the point.. some deep-seated philosophical stand-point or just CBA ?

    At least there seems to be some basic sort of attribution these days..



  2. Craig


    Of all the floods around the UK, isn't it typical the Thames was the one to be highlighted.

  3. Lucy Sherriff (Written by Reg staff)


    Hi Tim,

    The reason we generally don't link to pictures we have run is that we have already run the pictures. Others don't come from elsewhere on the web, so there is nowhere to link to.

    As you say, it is not usually hard to find them if you want more detail.



  4. Dan Mathias

    Thames, but not the Severn

    Yes, typical that the slightly expanded Thames gets pointed out, but the huge areas of the Severn and Avon valleys that are equally (if not more) visible are ignored.

    Remind me where the 300,000 people without running water are again? It's not in the southeast, so I suppose we shouldn't be interested, right? After all, the government didn't get interested until the Thames started flooding.

  5. Sarah Johnson

    Higher resolution flood data

    For data collected as part of the International Charter, try

    for higher resolution flood data over the UK. Alas no optical data but this is radar imagery from a new German satellite called TerraSAR-X with the flooded areas coloured in blue.

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    High-level view is beautiful

    Must have been awesome to see the impact of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs - from the Moon, that is. I can just imagine the beautiful symmetry of the halo around Ground Zero, expanding in a wonderfully linear progression under the pumes of crust and mantle rising lazily in the atmosphere.

    Meanwhile, on the ground, millions of creatures were being blasted by mega-hurricane winds of searing hot air that made the pyroclastic flows of Mt Vesuvius seem like a friendly garden barbecue, or being mashed to pulp by earthquakes of a magnitude that the Richter scale cannot even begin to describe.

    It's all a question of scale, of course. A supernova is quite nice when you're a few thousand light-years away, but it's Armageddon for any planet orbiting the thing.

  7. Law


    From Lucy to Tim...... SLAP!

    lol - Time, you were owned!!

    Craig, spot on!! :) I been asking myself all month - how come the North West had more rainfall than anywhere else in England this month, yet we didn't suffer the agony of severe flooding and the madness of lost power and bad water that others have had.... at first I thought that it was just southern-softies complaining more, but then I realised it was actually more serious down there... so what is it thats the problem?? Personally, I think they don't have enough canals (we loves canals), they spend more time being ripped off by inadequate flood defences (100 year guarantee claimed on within a year??), and that they are just more likely to buy on a flood plain because "look - its pretty" or "oh, thats cheap".

    *cue flood of wanna-be expert's to burn me into submission*

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Your piece mistakenly stated that "the damage will cost the insurance industry at least £2bn". Of course insurance companies never really loose money, the cost will simply be passed on to their clients by increased premiums.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Linkage

    Well yeah, you did already run them, but come on; you ran a tiny shrunk down lo-res version of them, and there are much better quality images on the site. Plus it's a convenient way of giving credit and attribution to the source.

    Please link images in future.

  10. Simon Greenwood

    @Law: the canals worked in some places, not in others

    The week after the really heavy rain that affected Doncaster and Hull (among other places), Salford Quays were full of rubbish that has been washed through the canals, including, oddly enough, hundreds of balls of various sizes. On the other hand, the areas around Doncaster flooded because streams and dykes that flowed into the Don, which is canalled and has some monumental flood defences, backed up because the Don couldn't take any more. You can't win, really.

  11. Alan Gregson

    re: ooOOOoo

    The reason we in the north-west are not suffering with flooded streets despite having the most rainfall was explained on North-West Tonight last week.

    Basically it's all down to the fact that we normally have more rain than everyone else, so the ground is used to handling a lot of water. Then we have the Manchester Ship Canal, which has quite a bit of spare capacity, and the River Mersey, which is quite fast flowing, so any water that hits the river is in the Irish Sea with 24 hours.

  12. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    The canals aren't the solution anyway...

    The problem is building on flood plains. You know why they're called flood plains? They flood! Regularly! I've recently seen buildings going up on a place called ashton moss, which has a motorway cut in to it. A moss is a bog. That motorway floods if you bleeding *spit* on it. I've seen houses going up on bogs and marshes, flood plains and water meadows, and then people turn around and wonder why their house is submerged up to the first-floor windows when it rains. And then they blame global warming for the fact that their house, built on a FLOOD PLAIN, is FLOODED.

    I could cry. I really could.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To make it worse...

    By building or expanding towns we concrete over the land that would normally soak the water up.

    This means we have to rely on the drainage network. First it pours water into the rivers compounding the problem (normally it would soak in and spend time travelling to the rivers) and second if the drainage cannot handle the amount of water there is nowhere else for it go.

  14. Roland Korn

    Come Heck or High water

    Don't feel so bad about them in the south. The same happens every year on the southern states or a certain area of the praries here in Canada every year. Im not even goin to mention Quebec. =P

    Here in southern Ontario, Greater Toronto Area and such, it is law that you can not build any structure on a flood plain without proper waiviers and such. That Huricane that hit way back when named Hazel (not the Mayor of Mississauga - thats another type of huricane) kind of decided things in peoples mind. Building control and the system of conservation areas to control flood waters through urban areas. Its not perfect. Local flooding due to overwhelmed drainage systems still occures but nothing really catastrophic yet (knocks wood) XD

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cry me a river

    No hosepipe ban this summer then?

  16. Michael

    Idiotic Building Placement

    We have a similar problem with people building things in bad places here in the states. People in Florida rebuild their houses in hurricane alley time and time again, and yet, every time it gets owned by high winds, it's a "tragedy". Is anyone surprised that Florida gets hit by hurricanes?? No?? Then don't freaking live there!! Or live there but don't whine when your house goes bye bye. Or whine, but don't expect sympathy or federal funds to rebuild. Don't. Build. There.

    And don't even get me started on New Orleans. Oh, Hurricane Katrina was such a disaster. The flooding was terrible... Blah blah blah. When you build a city below sea level, right next to the bloody ocean, what the Christ do you expect?? Nevermind that people had adequate warning to GTFO of the city. Tragedy my ass. People decided to live below sea level. They decided to stay put when a hurricane is coming. They get what they get, and I'm annoyed that I have to bloody pay for it out of my taxes.

  17. Daniel Ballado-Torres

    Nature wins, flawless victory!

    I coincide with those who say that building in floodable areas are just asking for it. Then again, cases like New Orleans, well, you can't just move the city, can you?

    I live in Mexico City. Hell, *more than half the city* used to be an entire lake system! The "Gran Canal de Desagüe" (Great Drain Canal) and other works were started by the Spaniards and finished by the Mexican gov't about 100 years ago, to drain most of the lake system. Of course, after 100 years the system is overloaded, the area overpopulated and voila, some parts of the city flood each year. While the right-wingers use this to nitpick the city government, *I* think it is actually a very good feat that the city itself isn't underwater by now, given the amount of rain I've seen in the last 8 months.

    As for the US, they have no sympathy on my eyes when a "disaster" strikes in the form of a Tornado.

    Come on, you build a wooden house, and expect it to stand harsh weather? I thought the "Three Little Piggies" children's tale would sort that out. If you're going to build in a hazardous zone, build appropiately. Earthquakes? Make the structure strong. Tornadoes? Same. Floods? The house I lived in on a flood-prone city years ago had a high dam in the front and back doors, the house itself was higher than street level, it would take a 1.5m water rise for the house itself to flood.

  18. Charles Pearmain

    Flood plain fiasco?

    The primary reason houses are built on flood plains in the southern half of England is simple - the pressure to house people wanting to live there rather than in the north.

    Speaking from bitter experience though, the recent (and indeed current) flooding in the west - Tewkesbury, Gloucester, Upton and many other smaller Cotswold towns - is largely of properties that are hundreds of years old rather than new buildings.

    The issue here is not that homes have been badly situated or that flood defences and preparations were inadequate, but that the sheer scale of the event would have overwhelmed any reasonable preparations. Reasonable up until now that is; many established 'facts' about flooding risks to the infrastructure are going to have to be reconsidered, and reconsidered with the possibility in mind that things could well get far worsel.

  19. Brian Milner

    Brussels cost us our Flood Defences

    Brussels withheld £350m of the money it owed Britan, as punishment for delaying the EU subsidy payments to English farmers. Gordon Brown told Defra the Treasury was not going to make up the shortfall. Defra looked for budget cuts to save £350m, and amongst these cuts were many flood defences and canal bank repairs.

    The delay in paying the subsidy is generally held to be Defra's fault, as they ordered the RPA to use the most complicated option for distributing it. Johnston McNeill at the RPA handed the job to Accenture, who bolloxed it up. (Several farmers comitted suicide over debts.) So the flood defences budget cut could demonstrably be Defra's fault.

    * Defra = Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

    * RPA = Rural Payments Agency

  20. Jason


    To sum up all of the above posts (and in fact, 99% of posts on this site);

    People are retarted.

  21. chris jones

    Re: Jason


    Is that including the 1% of people are, but can't spell, RETARDED?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fighting Nature

    It never fails to amaze me about how people complain and blame the government when;

    1: Their seaside house falls into the sea due to erosion.

    2: Their riverside house floods when it rains.

    3: Their house floods when it's been built on a flood plain.

    4: Their house is destroyed when it's built on a railway line.

    Ok, I know the last one isn't true, but doing 1 - 3 is the same as doing 4.

    With regards coastal erosion - why do we spend millions on sea defences? Why not just compulsory buy the homes for a fair value and force people to move elsewhere? It would end up being an awful lot cheaper than building flood defences that cost billions of pounds (cf Scarborough).

    I agree it's awful when things happen like this, however, flood defences and sea defences always move the problem elsewhere. I'm sure Sheffield flooded due to flood defences having been built elsewhere which just moves the problem up/downstream.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: chris

    now now chris, you know it isn't nice to pick on retards. like jason... :p

  24. chris jones


    I didn't mean to offend any retards by including Jason along with them.

  25. Ash

    All this talk of Flood Plain Damage........

    For those who think that the people who's homes or vehicles were damaged were just in the flood plain - you couldn't be much further from the truth !

  26. Nathanael Bastone

    My safe retreat

    Thats why I'm building me a treehouse! I'd like to see the water get up 8 Metres from the top of a hill! Anyway, a spot of flooding never hurt anyone, except if they were living on a FLOODPLAIN. I live in the S-E and our town has a river running through the lower end, which is surrounded by houses and businesses and it floods and yet they still don't take the hint. mind you, there is a 200 year old cottage built at the lowest part, but unlike the modern buildings, it seems to bounce off floods, so maybe the new builders should take a leaf?

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