Business Standard

Global river, stream surface area 45 pc higher than thought


Press Trust of India Washington
The surface area of global rivers and streams is about 45 per cent greater than previously estimated, say scientists.
Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Texas A&M University in the US used satellite images, on-the-ground measurements and a statistical model to determine how much of the earth is covered by rivers and streams.
Rivers and streams are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, so the significantly higher river and stream surface area calculation has important implications for understanding carbon emissions.
"As we try to mitigate the effects of climate change, it's really important that we clearly understand where the carbon that we are emitting goes, and that requires us to accurately quantify the global carbon cycle," said Tamlin Pavelsky, associate professor at UNC-Chapel Hill.
"Our new calculation helps scientists better assess how much carbon dioxide is moving from rivers and streams into the atmosphere each year," said Pavelsky.
This research, published in the journal Science, differed from past studies of global river and stream surface areas that were based on theoretical extrapolations of small amounts of actual data.
In this study, the research team was able to directly measure both the smallest streams and world's largest rivers through on-the-ground measurements and satellite images, and then use a statistical model to estimate river and stream coverage across the globe.
As part of the study, the researchers built the Global River Widths from Landsat database, which contains almost 60 million measurements of river width worldwide.
NASA will use data from this research to identify river segments during its NASA Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite mission, which will launch in 2021. The mission will be NASA's first satellite mission specifically focused on measuring rivers and lakes.

Disclaimer: No Business Standard Journalist was involved in creation of this content

Don't miss the most important news and views of the day. Get them on our Telegram channel

First Published: Jun 29 2018 | 1:40 PM IST

Explore News