March 22, 2014 is World Water Day. According to the to-be released World Water Development Report on Water and Energy – “Hydroelectricity is the largest renewable source for power generation and its share in total electricity generation is expected to remain around 16% through 2035.” Most of the water used for hydropower generation is returned to the river though some evaporates and there are important impacts on timing and quality of streamflows.
We look at some of the most beautiful images taken by astronauts on river systems across the world.
All images: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA-Johnson Space Center. “The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.”
Betsiboka Estuary, Madagascar: The Betsiboka Estuary on the northwest coast of Madagascar is the mouth of Madagascar’s largest river and one of the world’s fast-changing coastlines.
Rio Negro, Amazonia, Brazil: The wide, multi-island zone in the Rio Negro (Black River) shown in this astronaut photograph from September 2, 2006, is one of two, long “archipelagoes” upstream of the city of Manaus (not shown) in central Amazonia.
Volga River Delta The Volga River drains much of western Russia’s industrial region as it travels southward to empty into the Caspian Sea.
SS015-E-07649 (11 May 2007) — Saskatchewan River Delta, Manitoba, Canada is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 15 crewmember on the International Space Station. This image highlights a portion of the Saskatchewan River delta extending into Cedar Lake in the Province of Manitoba.
The São Simão Reservoir, near the confluence of the Rio Paranaiba and Rio Verde in Brazil, is the featured subject in a milestone image of Earth. This colorful, patchwork image is the 300,000th image of Earth downlinked from the International Space Station (ISS).
Sunglint on the Amazon River, Brazil The setting sun glints off the Amazon River and numerous lakes in its floodplain in this astronaut photograph from August 19, 2008. Large areas of sunglint are common in oblique views (shot from an angle, rather than looking straight down from the spacecraft). About 150 kilometers of the sinuous Amazon is shown here; the area is about 1,000 kilometers inland from the Atlantic Ocean.
Betsiboka River floods, Madagascar–January 2009 Between January 18 and 20, 2009, Tropical Storm Eric swept along the east coast of the island nation of Madagascar. Rain from this storm fell in the catchment of the Betsiboka River, one of the main rivers in northern Madagascar.
Lago Erepecu and Rio Trombetas, Brazil The 38-kilometer-long (about 24 miles) Lago do Erepecu (Lake Erepecu) in Brazil runs parallel to the lower Rio Trombetas (Trombetas River), which snakes along the lower half of this astronaut photograph
Tsauchab River and Sossus Vlei Lakebed, Namibia Taken on Christmas Eve of 2009, this image shows the lower 45 kilometers of the Tsauchab River, a famous landmark for Namibians, tourists, and for orbiting astronauts. The Tsauchab River bed is seen jutting into the sea of red dunes near Namibia’s hyper-arid coast. The riverbed ends in a series of light-colored, silty mud holes on the dry lake floor, known locally as Sossus Vlei (“small lake”).
Nile River Delta at Night One of the fascinating aspects of viewing Earth at night is how well the lights show the distribution of people. In this view of Egypt, we see a population almost completely concentrated along the Nile Valley, just a small percentage of the country’s land area.
STS078-747-81 Ataturk Reservoir, Turkey June 1996 This northeast-looking view shows the Ataturk Reservoir and Dam, presently the largest man-made lake in Turkey. Located in south central Turkey on the Euphrates River, Ataturk Reservoir was completed in the early 1990’s. The meandering Euphrates River (dark line) can be seen exiting the scene below the left center of the image.