Visualizing the Pakistan Flood

Beginning in July 2010 heavy monsoon rains (the worst in 80 years) caused massive flooding across Pakistan. Approximately 2,000 people have died as a direct result of the flooding, and close to a million homes have been badly damaged or destroyed. The United Nations estimates that over 20 million people are suffering and homeless as a result of the floods. The flood has submerged 17 million acres of Pakistan's most fertile growing area, killing a large amount of livestock and washing away grain. The World Health Organization reports that ten million people have been forced to drink unsafe water.
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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do you know how big the flood is?

    The data used to create the flood image comes from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

  2. Why does the flood seem to change size as I move it?

    If you move the flood south of Pakistan, without crossing the equator, you'll see it appear to shrink in size. If you move it north, it will appear to increase in size. The flood actually covers the same area on the map no matter where you place it, what changes is the map itself! Google Maps, and many maps we're used to looking at, use something called "Mercator Projection" in order to draw the spherical surface of the earth onto a flat plane. This projection distorts space as you move away from the equator in order to make the nice flat map you see. This means that a 100 square mile object placed at the equator will appear much smaller on the map than the same object placed closer to the poles. If you think about it, this makes sense -- if you were to wrap a string around the globe, you would need much more string to do so at the equator than you would further North, yet Google Maps portrays the Earth as a rectangle. You can read more about Mercator Projection on Wikipedia.

  3. When was this map last updated?

    August 23rd, 2010.

  4. Is the flood really hurting anything?

    See for yourself.