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On Earth, much more rivers and lakes than scientists thought

На Земле гораздо больше рек и озер, чем думали ученые A significant part of CO2 from the flowing water evaporates into the atmosphere.”

According to a study published in Science, rivers, and streams cover much more of the planet than thought, geologists. In total, the new work shows that, with the exception of terrestrial glaciers, all on our planet about 773 000 square kilometers of small water bodies. This is as much as 44% higher than predicted in previous studies!

The study aimed to trace the dynamics of changes in the water landscape, which occurs due to climatic changes. The thing is, that evaporation of river water increases the percentage of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, especially in the case if people pollute water bodies.

John Downing, a biochemist at the University of Minnesota, in an interview with Gizmodo said that “until 2006 it was considered that rivers and lakes are natural arteries by which carbon enters the ocean. However, more recent observations have shown that a significant part of CO2 from the flowing water evaporates into the atmosphere.”

Contaminants (such as, for example, fertilizer or the contents of sewage) into the river, provoke the circulation of methane, CO2 and nitrous oxide, which dissolve in water and evaporate from it, then to come back together with precipitation. Thus, the pollution of rivers is not just poisoning the water environment, but also direct harm to the entire atmosphere.

To map the rivers and streams of the planet, George Allen and Tamlyn Pawelski from the University of North Carolina conducted an analysis of thousands of Landsat, a NASA satellite. Using specially designed for this, they received the full map of small water bodies of the Earth. Not trusting all the work machines, the scientists involved “a small army of students” in order to double-check all the calculations again to ensure that no errors

As it turned out, become the most arid areas where there is a high level of human impact. The researchers suggested that a related set of measures, primarily agricultural: pumping water to the fields, draining swamps, etc.

Allen argues that a significant difference in comparison with previous estimates is due to the fact that past work did not take into account the natural river morphology. The new study, therefore, is the first of its kind global project water mapping in high resolution. It will be extremely useful in the first place will help to predict future changes in the water landscape in the future.

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