Initial Publication Date: October 7, 2011

Flood Visualizations

Compiled by Rob Thomas at SERC.

These animations, images, and film clips illustrate the nature and extent of flooding events. They show a variety of ways flooding can be generated as well as the effects on people and infrastructure.

Browse the complete set of Visualization Collections. If you have comments or additional resources to add to the page, use our Feedback box to let us know.

Missouri River Flood Flyby: Before and After, NASA Scientific Visualization Studio (more info) A unique visualization that provides a side-by-side view of the Missouri River before and during the 1993 flood in Central Missouri. This flyby of 3D terrain, generated from Landsat 5 data, allows viewers to easily see how the flood conditions relate to the river's normal state. The animation is available in QuickTime and MPEG-1 formats, while stills from the animation are presented in a variety of sizes and formats.

Global Archive Map of Extreme Flood Events Since 1985, Dartmouth Flood Obersvatory (more info) This interactive map of floods around the world allows users to display flood events from specific years, overlaying color-coded flood areas to compare flood events from specific years. Through good use of transparency, this map makes flood data accessible. Shockwave Player is required to view the map.

Hurricane Katrina Flooding, The Times-Picayune (more info) This animation created for the New Orleans Times-Picayne newspaper shows the flooding of New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina. A time-sequenced animated map of New Orleans shows levee breaks and flooded areas as overlying information text boxes describe the events of August 29, 2005. Also included is a continuous animation and a map of water depth on September 1, 2005.

River Floods, Houghton Mifflin (more info) This shockwave tool combines animations, text, and simulations in order to teach about floods. Topics addressed in the module include the shape of drainage basins, discharge rates, deposition, runoff, flood frequency, and related issues. Finally, the module allows the user to generate a flood and test different flood control techniques to see how a variety of conditions affect flooding.

Mississippi River Flood 1927, Internet Archive (more info) An 18-minute silent film documenting the Mississippi River flood of 1927, featuring images of the flood, the damage it caused, the victims who suffered, and the relief efforts that helped rebuild. Although the was poorly transfered to video, it is in relatively good condition, and a shotlist is provided. The file is available as MPEG-4 streams and downloads at two different levels of quality, as well as MPEG-1 and -2 files for download.

Flooding in Vietnam, NASA Scientific Visualization Studio (more info) A slideshow of images of flooding in Vietnam in Summer 2000, as captured by NASA's Terra Earth observing satellite. These color adjusted images make it easy to track the spread of water across land, and observe how the flood grows and spreads. The slideshow is available as an MPEG-1 movie. A still image is available in a variety of sizes and formats.

Flood Visualizations, NASA Scientific Visualization Studio (more info) A lengthy listing of all of NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio visualizations that have flood as a keyword. The listing includes many visualizations of specific flood instances, as well as visualizations of floods caused by hurricanes. The visualizations are available in a wide variety of formats.

Global Floods 1985-2006, Dartmouth Flood Observatory ( This site may be offline. ) An animated GIF map of major flood events around the world from 1985-2006. Floods are overlaid on a world map, shown as numbered red areas representing the areas the floods affected. Only major floods reported by news services are included in the map.

Atlas of Global Flood Hazard, Dartmouth Flood Observatory (more info) An interactive map of flood hazards that allows users to closely examine 10-degree-square areas of the Earth's surface for historic flood events, color coded by year. These close-up views make it easy to see the relative size of floods and the rate of occurrence of floods for a specific region. The interactive map is a work in progress, and new data is being added continually.

New Orleans Flooding Animation, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (more info) This animation, based on radar topography data captured from the space shuttle, illustrates the vulnerability of New Orleans to flooding. The animation shows the effect of flood ranging from 0 to 9 meters in height, and which portions of the city would be submerged. The animation, which predates Hurricane Katrina, is available as a QuickTime file. Stills are also available in a variety of formats.

Before and During the Great Mississippi Flood of 1993, NASA Scientific Visualization Studio (more info) This series of satellite images, captured with the Landsat-5 satellite, show the Mississippi river near St. Louis, Missouri during normal conditions in 1991 and after the great flood of 1993. The images are available as PNG files of varying sizes, along with an MPEG-1 movie that combines two images of the same area.

Flood Maps, Alex Tingle ( This site may be offline. ) This map, created by combining data from Google Maps and NASA, shows which land areas would be flooded by sea level rises between 0 and 14 meters. The NASA data set used is only of limited reliability, but the map provides a fascinating view of the consequences of rising sea levels, and the consequent floods of costal areas.