Poyang Lake has reached a record high. Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features China’s largest freshwater lake, Poyang Lake, which greatly varies in size from winter to summer.
The 2019 to 2020 season was exceptionally variable, with water levels jumping from almost non-existent to the highest on record.
In this false color image, acquired with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite, water appears dark blue or black and vegetation is bright green. The contrast makes it easier to distinguish between water and land.
By December 29, 2019, Poyang Lake was the lowest it had been in 60 years. But beginning in early June, unusually heavy storms and rainfall across the Yangtze River Basin brought excessive water to the lake.
When this photo was captured on July 14, 2020, Poyang Lake had reached a record-breaking 22.6 meters.
The area of Poyang Lake fluctuates dramatically between the wet and dry seasons, but in recent years the size of the lake has been decreasing overall. In a normal year the area of the lake averages 3,500 square kilometers (1,400 sq mi). In early 2012, due to drought, sand quarrying, and the practice of storing water at the Three Gorges Dam the area of the lake reached a low of about 200 square kilometers (77 sq mi). The lake provides a habitat for half a million migratory birds and is a favorite destination for birding.
Authorities recently declared a “red alert” for flooding at Poyang Lake and nearby areas. Dozens of rivers across central and eastern China have also reached record highs.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory