Contributor: Rob Gutro

Landsat images

Landsat images before Gustav (Aug. 30 – left) and after (Oct. 1- right). False-color coded to see vegetation (green), bare or low vegetation (pink to white), and water (blues). Credit: NASA Landsat, Mike Taylor

Hurricane Gustav made landfall in coastal Louisiana on Sept. 1, 2008, as a very strong category 2 (almost category 3) hurricane and left its mark on wetlands and barrier islands. NASA‘s Landsat 5 satellite, which is operated by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s United States Geological Survey (USGS), captured revealing images.

NASA satellites have many applications, including observations to improve understanding of the global integrated Earth system, improve forecasts of hurricanes, and help federal and state agencies assess damages produced by natural hazards such as hurricanes. Landsat 5 produces 185-kilometer (115 mile) images with a 30-meter (98 feet) ground sampling size that can discern areas changed by hurricanes and tropical storms. Landsat 5 can capture imagery of a given geographic location every 16 days.

After Hurricane Gustav made landfall on September 1, 2008, Landsat data provided picture-proof that wetlands and barrier islands off the Louisiana coast, southwest of New Orleans, were lost from hurricane-related flooding.

NASA’s Landsat Project Science Office, located at Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., assembled before-and-after Landsat 5 images of the affected areas. Landsat 5 data showed that wetlands and barrier islands off the Louisiana coast, southwest of New Orleans, were destroyed from flooding as Hurricane Gustav made landfall.

The images on the left were acquired on August 30, 2008, while the images on the right were acquired October 1, 2008, a month after the hurricane made landfall near Houma, Louisiana. The images show the various impacts of the hurricane on the Louisiana coast.

Read full story and see more images on NASA Hurricane website