Natural Hazards

, 59:1815 | Cite as

The Indus flood of 2010 in Pakistan: a perspective analysis using remote sensing data

  • Kumar Gaurav
  • R. Sinha
  • P. K. Panda
Original Paper


The Indus flood in 2010 was one of the greatest river disasters in recent history, which affected more than 14 million people in Pakistan. Although excessive rainfall between July and September 2010 has been cited as the major causative factor for this disaster, the human interventions in the river system over the years made this disaster a catastrophe. Geomorphic analysis suggests that the Indus River has had a very dynamic regime in the past. However, the river has now been constrained by embankments on both sides, and several barrages have been constructed along the river. As a result, the river has been aggrading rapidly during the last few decades due to its exceptionally high sediment load particularly in reaches upstream of the barrages. This in turn has caused significant increase in cross-valley gradient leading to breaches upstream of the barrages and inundation of large areas. Our flow accumulation analysis using SRTM data not only supports this interpretation but also points out that there are several reaches along the Indus River, which are still vulnerable to such breaches and flooding. Even though the Indus flood in 2010 was characterized by exceptionally high discharges, our experience in working on Himalayan rivers and similar recent events in rivers in Nepal and India suggest that such events can occur at relatively low discharges. It is therefore of utmost importance to identify such areas and plan mitigation measures as soon as possible. We emphasize the role of geomorphology in flood analysis and management and urge the river managers to take urgent steps to incorporate the geomorphic understanding of Himalayan rivers in river management plans.


Flood disaster Avulsion Embankment breaching Siltation Himalayan rivers 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology KanpurKanpurIndia

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