Stream Network Geometry Correlates with Climate (EOS)

This article by Terri Cook, was published April 6th, 2017 on Earth and Space Science News (EOS).

A “big data” analysis of nearly 1 million river junctions in the contiguous United States shows that branching angles in dendritic drainages vary systematically between humid and arid regions.

SOURCE: Geophysical Research Letters

Enter a captionAn analysis of dendritic river drainages in the contiguous United States indicates that the junctions between tributaries are wider in humid regions and narrower in arid regions, such as at the Grand Canyon, pictured here in a three-dimensional Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) image taken by NASA’s Terra spacecraft in 2011. Credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Although dendritic river networks, whose branches join in treelike fashion to form increasingly larger streams, are found all over the world, the processes that shape them are still poorly understood. To explore whether climate influences the geometry of dendritic stream networks, Seybold et al. analyzed nearly 1 million digitally mapped river junctions in different climatic regimes across the contiguous United States.

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