Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Before and after satellite images show extent of Sesan dam impact



Before and after satellite images show extent of Sesan dam impact

Left: Landsat 8 satellite imagery from February 14, 2017. Right: Landsat 8 satellite imagery from February 1, 2018. Photos courtesy of The Earth Observatory/NASA
Left: Landsat 8 satellite imagery from February 14, 2017. Right: Landsat 8 satellite imagery from February 1, 2018. Photos courtesy of The Earth Observatory/NASA

Before and after satellite images show extent of Sesan dam impact

Satellite imagery published by NASA on Saturday reveals the extent of flooding caused by the Lower Sesan II hydropower dam, and the change in the landscape in just one year.

“The Operational Land Imagery (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite captured these before and after natural-color images of the dam and reservoir,” NASA, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, wrote in a news release posted to the Earth Observatory website, the agency’s public outreach arm.

One image from February 14, 2017, shows the dam still under construction, with the Sesan and Srepok rivers still flowing freely, while an image from February 1 this year shows the after-effects of the closure of the dam’s floodgates in September, creating a 75-square kilometer reservoir.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Annotated Landsat 8 satellite imagery dated February 14, 2017. Photo courtesy of The Earth Observatory/NASA

“The brown and light green areas in the first image, particularly those with straight edges, were likely cleared recently for timber; some of the smaller tan areas were crop fields near villages. Densely forested areas are green,” NASA wrote.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Annotated Landsat 8 satellite imagery dated February 1, 2018. Photo courtesy of The Earth Observatory/NASA

The controversial dam cost some $800 million, and has drawn criticism over the displacement of villagers living in the reservoir area, many of whom are ethnic minorities. Justified by the government as a necessary source of cheaper energy, environmental experts have pointed to how the changing global climate may soon make hydropower dams on the Mekong and its tributaries inefficient or obsolete as water flows become unpredictable. A 2012 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences projected the Lower Sesan II dam would reduce the productivity of the Mekong Basin fisheries by nearly 9 percent.

Read more: Life after the flood: Sesan dam holdouts rue their losses – but see a fragile victory

MOST VIEWED

  • Without shoes or a helmet, a young cyclist steals the show

    Pech Theara gripped the curved handlebars of his rusty old bike, planted his bare feet on its pedals and stormed as fast as he could towards the finish line. The odds were against him as the 13-year-old faced off against kids with nicer bikes at

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • PM dispels lockdown rumours, gifts masks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on November 12 denied rumours that he will lock down the country in response to increased Covid-19 fears, referring to them as propaganda aimed at destabilising the country. In a Facebook post, he said some people had spread rumours that the government

  • SilkAir adds flight to Phnom Penh schedule

    Silkair (Singapore) Pte Ltd is increasing its flight frequency between Phnom Penh and Singapore with a third weekly flight on Saturdays, according to Cambodia Airports’ Facebook page. The other flights offered are on Tuesdays and Sundays, with an estimated Phnom Penh arrival time at 5:35pm