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Seeing Earth from Space - Lake Nasser, Egypt

Seeing Earth from Space – Lake Nasser, Egypt

A portion of Lake Nasser, one of the largest man-made lakes in the world, is shown in this false-color image taken by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission.

Lake Nasser, shown lower right in black, is a large lake and reservoir located in southern Egypt and northern Sudan. Created after the construction of the Aswan High Dam on the waters of the Nile in the late 1960s, the ambitious project was designed to irrigate new agricultural developments and attract people to the area.

The dam is located about 200 km northeast of the area shown here and cannot be seen. The dam retains flood water from the Nile, releasing it when needed to maximize its usefulness on irrigated lands, to irrigate hundreds of thousands of hectares of land downstream, but also into the surrounding area. The dam also helps improve navigation through Aswan and generates a huge amount of hydroelectric power. The lake covers a total area of ​​5,250 square kilometres, but is relatively shallow with an average depth of 25 metres.

The ancient Egyptian temple of Abu Simbel fell into the path of the rising water caused by the dam, causing the temple complex to move. In the 1960s, the historic site was dismantled piece by piece and reassembled in a new location to avoid submersion. Although the resolution of the image does not allow to see the temple in detail, the city of Abu Simbel and its airport can be spotted at the bottom of the image, near many of the farms seen in red.

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Part of the Toshka Lakes, the natural depressions that flooded Lake Nasser, are shown in the upper left of the image. These inland lakes were created in the 1980s and 1990s by diverting the waters of Lake Nasser through the artificial channel visible in green in the image.

The rise and fall of the lakes depends on multi-year fluctuations in the flow of the Nile’s waters. From 2012 to 2018, the lakes shrank dramatically, leaving only a small remnant of water in the basins. Sudan’s summer rainfall in 2019 and record flooding in 2020 caused the lake to fill up rapidly. The lakes are relatively saline, with visible signs of eutrophication and algal formation.

This image is a false-color composite created using the Copernicus Sentinel-2 near-infrared channel to highlight the region’s rare vegetation. This determines the presence of pivot irrigation fields, which can be seen as circular shapes in the photo, the largest of which is approximately 750 meters in diameter.

Pivot irrigation systems operate where irrigation equipment rotates around a fixed water supply point and crops are irrigated with sprinklers. This type of irrigation helps farmers manage their water needs and conserve their own water sources.

Download the full image in high resolution.

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