First satellite measurement of Amazon floodplain water volume

August 7th, 2010 - 4:44 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Aug 7 (ANI): Scientists have been able to collect satellite measurements of the amount of water that rises and falls annually in the Amazon River floodplain.

The amount - 285 billion metric tons - is over half the volume of Lake Erie, which is the world’s 15th largest lake.

But it accounts for only 5 percent of the water flowing through the Amazon River every year.

Doug Alsdorf, associate professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University, and his colleagues conducted the study.

Until now, researchers only had estimates of the amount of water, and the new study is critical to predicting the floods and droughts that could accompany global climate change, explained Alsdorf.

“We need to understand how our water supply will change as the climate changes, and the first step is getting a handle on how much water we actually have,” he said.

“Satellite observations are the only reliable option for places like the Amazon and especially the Congo Basin, where in-person measurements are near-impossible. Just getting there is a serious challenge,” Alsdorf said.

The study appears in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment. (ANI)

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