Just what kind of rain was it that caused the unprecedented floods in Kerala? To provide an idea, NASA has released the data retrieved from Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellites in the period between August 13 and August 20. These satellites receive data every half hour from around the world, allowing scientists access to accurate images in near real time.

As a video representation (above) of the data shows, there were two bands of heavy rain running across the Indian subcontinent in this period. The first extended across the northern part, and the second – more concentrated and intense – covered Kerala and parts of Karnataka, causing all the damage.

The Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) uses a combination of passive microwave sensors to measure the precipitation for an area.