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]

euphro, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Mount Jackson Loses Spot as UK's Tallest Mountain After Satellite Reveals Measurement Error
euphro, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
euphro, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Geography textbook writers, take note: The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has just made a major correction to its old data. As Independent reports, satellite imagery reveals that Mount Hope in the British Atlantic Territory is 1236 feet taller than previously believed, unseating Mount Jackson as the UK’s tallest peak.

BAS realized the old height was incorrect after surveying mountains in Britain’s Antarctic territory using satellite technology. Inaccurate measurements pose a threat to planes flying over the mountains, and with the mapping project BAS intended to make the route safer for aircraft.

Prior to the survey, Mount Jackson was thought to be the tallest mountain in the British Atlantic Territory and the greater UK at 10,446 feet, the BBC reports. But after reviewing the new elevation data, BAS found that Mount Hope bests it by just 180 feet. Reaching 10,627 feet at its summit, Mount Hope is officially Britain’s tallest mountain.

Historically, mountains were measured on the ground using basic math equations. By measuring the distance between two points at the base of a mountain and calculating the angle between the top of the mountain and each point, researchers could estimate its height. But this method leaves a lot of room for error, and today surveyors use satellites circling the globe to come up with more precise numbers.

Because they’re both located in Antarctica, neither of the two tallest mountains in the UK is a popular climbing destination. British thrill-seekers usually choose Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, as their bucket-list mountain of choice—but at just 4413 at its highest point, climbing it would be a breeze compared to conquering Mount Hope.

[h/t Independent]

Afternoon Map
The Most Popular Christmas Candy in Each State, Mapped

For those who didn’t get their full candy fix last Halloween, the holiday season provides plenty of opportunities to indulge. From candy canes to chocolate Santas, there’s something for everyone—but before splurging on sweet stocking stuffers, check out the interactive map below. Created by bulk candy retailer, it breaks down the top three favorite candies in each state.

To determine which Christmas treats were the most popular, the team at surveyed over 50,000 customers and spoke with major candy manufacturers and distributors. Not surprisingly, candy canes were a hit in numerous states, including Washington, Delaware, Vermont, Georgia, Maine, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. California, Nevada, West Virginia, and Kansas residents, however, got into the seasonal spirit with peppermint bark. North Dakota residents preferred chocolate Santas. And Alabama, Michigan, and Utah liked Jelly Belly’s Reindeer Corn.

Christmas candy sales in America are projected to rake in nearly $2 billion for confectioners, according to an estimate provided by the National Confectionary Association. Spend your holiday bonus wisely on treats everyone will appreciate by checking out’s full results below.



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