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How Deforestation Impacts the Amazon River, Brazil – June 15th, 2013

0.4N 50.2W

June 15th, 2013 Category: Deforestation, Image of the day, Sediments MODISAqua

Brazil – June 15th, 2013

The Amazon Basin is the largest drainage basin in the world, covering over 7,049,947km2 of land, supplying the Amazon River with all of its water. The Amazon forest is an extremely important habitat containing 30.7% of the world’s rainforest and is the most species-rich biome in the entire world.

Deforestation has been a major problem in the Amazon since 1970s with the forest now 17.1% smaller than it originally was, which equates to 699,746km2 of forest lost. The Amazon has lost more forest than the total amount of forest India has, standing at around 440,000km2. The rate of deforestation has been and still is increasing every year.

The drastic amounts of deforestation obviously have a large impact, especially on the Amazon River itself, whose mouth is visible here. Forest cover anchors the soil, acting as a resistance to erosion, and when an area is cleared of forest erosion rates sky rocket. In a study done on the Ivory Coast a forested slope lost 0.03 hectares of soil per year, while a deforested slope lost up to 90 hectares per year, an increase of 3000%. All of this eroded sediment seeps into the river and is carried along its entire length to the delta on the east coast of Brazil.

An increase in sediment load has many adverse impacts: it can smother fish eggs, diminishing fish populations and hurting the ecosystem as well as the fishing industry, it can damage the infrastructure of a country by destroying bridges and dams which may hurt the economy, and it can increase flood rates and sizes by raising the river bed (click here for more information).

Sediment Loads of the Amazon River, Brazil

0.3N 49.9W

June 4th, 2013 Category: Rivers, Sediments MODISAqua

Brazil – June 4th, 2013

Sediment loads can be calculated by converting cosmogenic nuclide-derived rates using their sediment-producing areas. The fluctuations in the modern sediment loads of the Amazon River are due to the absence of long-term deposition within the basin and to the buffering capability of the large Amazon floodplain. The buffering capability dampens short-term, high-amplitude fluctuations (climatic variability in source areas and anthropogenic soil erosion) by the time the denudation rate signal of the hinterland is transmitted to the outlet of the basin (click here for more information).

Negro and Amazon Rivers Flowing Across Amazon Rainforest, Brazil

2.8S 62.2W

March 29th, 2013 Category: Rivers

Brazil – March 26th, 2013

Flowing across the upper portion of this image of the Amazon Rainforest is the Rio Negro, a river with dark, almost black-coloured, water (although part of the river to the east appears light here due to sun glint), while the sandy-coloured Amazon River, or Rio Solimões, flows across the lower part of the image. The two rivers converge near Manaus (not visible here), where for 6 km (3.7 mi) their waters run side by side without mixing, due to differences in temperature, speed and water density.

Confluence of Tapajós and Amazon Rivers, Brazil

2.4S 54.6W

November 11th, 2012 Category: Rivers

Brazil – November 10th, 2012

This image shows the Tapajós River (visible as a thick, blue band) joining the  Amazon River (brown with sediments, meandering horizontally across the image center). The Tapajós runs through a humid, hot valley and pours into the Amazon River 500 miles above Pará.  It is about 1200 miles long. For its last 100 miles it is from 4 to 9 miles wide and much of it very deep. The valley of the Tapajós is bordered on both sides by bluffs. They are from 300 to 400 feet high along the lower river; but a few miles above Santarém, they retire from the eastern side and do not approach the Amazon flood-plain until some miles below Santarém. Upon opening the full image, the mouth of the Amazon can be seen to the northeast.

Fires Near Amazon River in Brazil

3.1S 60W

September 3rd, 2012 Category: Rivers, Sediments

Brazil – August 27th, 2012

Wispy trails of smoke from fires in Brazil blow over the Amazon Rainforest. The Amazon River, fed by various tributaries, can be seen flowing across the middle of the image. It spills a dense load of sediments into the Atlantic Ocean through an exceptionally wide mouth, visible in the upper right quadrant.

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