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

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Time to Rise by rapper, chapei legend is viral hit with ancient-modern mix

    Kong Nay is known internationally as the master of the chapei dang veng, a traditional Cambodian instrument resembling a long-necked lute or guitar with two nylon strings that he was already playing professionally by the age of 15. Nay is sometimes referred to as the Cambodian

  • Cambodia set for large-scale vaccination campaign as Covid spreads

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed all provincial authorities to get ready for a large-scale vaccination campaign, with at least one million doses to be administered per month. “We will roll out at least one million doses. The vaccines we have purchased and received as