Natural Hazards Monitoring

Hazards in Pakistan

Pakistan is facing serious threat and great challenges from large-scale natural as well as anthropogenic disasters, such as, seismic events, landslides, droughts, floods, fog, torrential rains, tropical cyclones, dust storms, fires, locusts, oil-spills, depletion of Glaciers etc. Space technology can be used for monitoring and assessing natural disasters very effectively. Timely precautionary measures can thus be taken during the pre-disaster, disaster and post disaster stages, thereby minimizing loss of life and property.

SUPARCO, being the national space agency of Pakistan, uses various kinds of earth observation satellites and GIS techniques for identifying, examining and assessing natural / anthropogenic disasters.

  • Snowfall
  • Snow Melt-off
  • Floods
  • Cyclone/Low Depression
  • Dust Storm in Pakistan
  • Oil Spill at Karachi Coast
  • October 2005 Earthquake in Pakistan
  • Depletion of Glaciers
  • Fog


MODIS image of 7 October 2006 & 11 December 2006 show the pre and post snow fall situation in Northern Pakistan. Red colour denotes snow-cover area.

Snow Melt-off

Heat wave & snow melt caused flood in Swat & Kabul Rivers in June 2005. Worst affected areas were Noshehra, Charsada & Peshawar in NWFP. The MODIS images below depict the pre and post event situation.


Flood in Sindh & Balochistan June-July 2007, Pakistan



Situation analyzed for flooding of June July 2007 in Sindh & Balochistan Area covered by water Name of Place
Before Flood 2.148966001 Km2 Lake near Sehwan, in Sindh
After Flood 4.323898546 Km2 Lake near Sehwan, in Sindh
Difference 2.174932545 Km2 Lake near Sehwan, in Sindh

A tropical cyclone in June 2007 had hit the coast of Pakistan that caused heavy rains in Balochistan, inundating its villages

Series of torrents brought gushing waters from high altitudes of Kirthar Range, Balochistan towards Sindh flooding vast areas of districts of Dadu and Shahdadkot / Qambar

In figure 1 Meteosat image is showing heavy cloud coverage over Balochistan and Sindh on June 26 2007

Figure 2 shows GIS based map of Pakistan where the flooded areas are shown in blue color, it can also be seen that, although Makran Coast received unusually high precipitation, but was not inundated because of being located at higher elevation

To study the variation in the pattern of Indus basin ALOS-PALSAR (JAXA) images were used. PALSAR penetrated through clouds over the affected areas, which helped to study the flooding situation

MODIS image of 25 August 2006 shows pre-flood and 5 September 2006 indicates flooding situations along the Chenab river.

Cyclone/Low Depression

The images below show low depression (cloud build-up/cyclone & windy condition) in Arabian Sea.

Dust Storm in Pakistan

MODIS image of 22 November 2006 shows the dust plumes blowing over the Arabian Sea. The thickest plume blew off Pakistan, some 500 kilometers east of the border with Iran. Other plumes appear more transparent. Dust storms also carry infectious organisms. Despite blown to height & exposed to Sun radiation, bacteria & fungi still survived and were distributed along the direction of wind.

Oil Spill at Karachi Coast

On 14 August 2003 an oil tanker carrying 67,000 tons of crude oil, faced an accident and released about 30,000 tons of crude oil near the Karachi coast. The images given below are show the gradual dispersion of the oil spill.

October 2005 Earthquake in Pakistan

A powerful earthquake of 7.6 magnituted rattled northern Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan on 8 October 2005. Centered in northern Pakistan, the quake flattened nearby cities, causing  thousands of deaths and leaving millions homeless. Below are some satellite images showing destruction caused by the earthquake.

Depletion of Glaciers

Nature has bestowed Pakistan with more than a hundred glaciers, situated in the North of Pakistan. Satellite images of Batura Glacier pertaining to different years were analyzed. It was observed that the ice covered and ice free areas of Batura Glacier in the year 1992 were 98 and 25 sq km respectively, whereas in the year 2000, the ice covered area reduced to 81 sq km.


Occurrence of wide spread dense fog has become regular phenomena in winter every year. Its intensity is increasing, rendering poor visibility & health problems. Northeastern India & the neighboring sections of Pakistani Punjab can be seen covered with fog.