Fancy New Maps Show the Width of North America's Rivers

There’s a fair amount we don’t know about the world’s rivers, including how wide they are. Typically, estimates of river widths are calculated through a painstaking process of measuring water flow at different points and carefully examining topographic maps. Satellite images, however, make the process a whole lot easier, resulting in a much more accurate map of what North America’s waterways look like. 

As part of a study published in Geophysical Research Letters, researchers at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill combed through more than 1700 images of Earth taken by the Landsat satellites run by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. These images—all with limited cloud cover and no ice covering the rivers, taken at different times of the year when they were at their highest points—were run through a software program that pinpointed the centers and edges of all the rivers. 

Image Credit: George Allen

In the resulting image (top), river width is noted with shades of blue—the darker the line, the wider the river. The dryness of the American Southwest and Mexico stands out; meanwhile, Alaska is home to a swath of vast waterways. You can easily pick out the dark blue of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Another image (above) provides an even more granular look, putting water width on a color spectrum to differentiate between super-thin waterways and medium-sized rivers. 

Estimating the width of rivers is necessary for evaluating flood hazards, studying ecology, and estimating the greenhouse gases rivers emit due to bacteria. The researchers plan on releasing river width data for the entire world around 2016. 

[h/t: Wired]

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From Crab Cakes to Pepperoni Rolls: The Most Iconic Dish in Every State
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Each state has a particular dish or dishes that residents hold especially dear to their hearts. West Virginians are evangelical about pepperoni rolls. Residents of Maine and Connecticut are territorial about their lobster rolls. Colorado makes license plates featuring the pueblo chile. Regional foods inspire incredible loyalty, and though you may be able to find the same chain restaurants in every state, certain foods are indelibly linked to their birthplace.

The team behind Flavored Nation—an event devoted to dishes from all 50 states that’s debuting in Columbus, Ohio in August 2018—put together the map below showing every state’s most iconic food. The dishes were chosen based on independent research, input from social media, and discussions with state tourism boards. Come August, Flavored Nation will bring chefs from all over the country to Columbus to make these dishes during the two-day event.

A map of the U.S. with a photo of a regional food placed within each state
Flavored Nation

On the map you’ll see familiar foods like deep dish pizza, Nashville hot chicken, and Philly cheese steaks alongside less-popular dishes like knoephla (a type of dumpling) in North Dakota, Idaho's finger steaks (battered and deep-fried strips of steak), and Kansas's sour cream and raisin pie.

Some picks may surprise you, like the Coney dog—which isn’t native to Coney Island in New York, but is a Michigan delicacy that involves hot dogs smothered in ground beef. Others are disappointingly mainstream, like Missouri’s barbecue or Iowa’s corn dogs.

The longer you look at the map, the hungrier you’ll get, so you might as well just start planning a road trip so you can try all these snacks for yourself.

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Interactive Map Shows Where Your House Would Have Been 750 Million Years Ago
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Your neighborhood traveled a long way over several hundred million years to reach the spot it occupies today. To trace that journey over the ages, check out Ancient Earth, an interactive digital map spotted by Co.Design.

Ancient Earth, a collaboration between engineer and Google alum Ian Webster and Paleomap Project creator C.R. Scotese, contains geographical information for the past 750 million years. Start at the beginning and you'll see unrecognizable blobs of land. As you progress through the ages, the land mass Pangaea gradually breaks apart to form the world map we're all familiar with.

To make the transition even more personal, you can enter your street address to see where it would have been located in each period. Five hundred million years ago, for example, New York City was a small island in the southern hemisphere isolated from any major land mass. Around the same time, London was still a part of Pangaea, and it was practically on top of the South Pole. You can use the arrows on your keyboard to flip through the eras or jump from event to event, like the first appearance of multicellular life or the dinosaur extinction.

As you can see from the visualization, Pangaea didn't break into the seven continents seamlessly. Many of the long-gone continents that formed in the process even have names.

[h/t Co.Design]

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