Ice and Flooding on the Ob River 06/29/07

MODIS image of the Ob River

Shown in this image, captured by the MODIS on Terra satellite on June 29, 2007, is the Ob River in Russia. The Ob River originates in the Altay Mountains of southwestern Siberia and empties into the Arctic Ocean. The Ob and its major tributary, the Irtysh, combine to form the longest river system in Asia.

There is large-scale seasonal flooding on rivers throughout Siberia each year. Because many Siberian rivers flow from south to north, they flood regularly in the spring as meltwater from southern latitudes backs up against the still-frozen northern reaches of the rivers. This image shows the mouth of the Ob River where it empties into Kara Sea. Its outlet into the Kara Sea (as well as a great deal of the river itself is choked with ice.

The effect of this ice block has caused what is normally a fine mesh of braided streams and branches of river channel to become almost a lake in places. Rivers can back up for hundreds of miles, and cause devastating flooding for towns and villages along the banks. Often, explosives are dropped into ice jams in an effort to free the river and give the flood waters a chance to escape.

Text and image courtesy of NASA's MODIS Land Rapid Response Team.