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]

Dan Bell
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.


All images by Dan Bell

Leon Neal, Getty Images
The Best and Worst States for Online Dating, Mapped
 Leon Neal, Getty Images
Leon Neal, Getty Images

If your online dating experience is more awkward than romantic, maybe you have geography to blame. An AT&T retailer called All Home Connections recently crunched some data on the online dating landscape, and let's just say we hope you aren’t trying to Tinder in New Mexico.

The southwestern state turns out to be one of the worst for online dating prospects, at least according to this methodology, which looked at dating opportunities, demographics, and safety. It took into account the state’s percentage of singles and gender balance, along with things like unemployment rate and median earnings, percentage of people with smartphones, data on whether or not people there say they are even interested in online dating, and the violent crime rate.

A map of the U.S. with states colored on a gradient from red to white to show online dating prospects
All Home Connections

According to this data, if you want to find love online, you should head to the Northeast: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maine topped the list. That may not be surprising considering the data that went into the calculation—those states have some of the highest incomes in the U.S., and fairly high rates of educational attainment.

By contrast, the lowest states on the list, New Mexico and Arkansas, both come out looking pretty bad by those standards. So if you’re not looking for a rich spouse with a bachelor’s degree, you might not necessarily agree with some of rankings. (Although those states also have some of the highest violent crime rates, so you might want to do a little extra online sleuthing to background check your dates before you meet up there.)

Here are the 10 best states for online dating, according to the data:

1. New Hampshire
2. Massachusetts
3. Rhode Island
4. Connecticut
5. Maine
6. North Dakota
7. Washington
8. Minnesota
9. New York
10. New Jersey

And these are the 10 worst:

1. Arkansas
2. New Mexico
3. Mississippi
4. Louisiana
5. South Carolina
6. Tennessee
7. Alabama
8. Oklahoma
9. Texas
10. Nevada

For those still struggling to find a Valentine, the map might be a little comforting, in a way. If you’re not finding the love of your life on Tinder in the South, know that you might not be the only one struggling. It’s not you; it’s the state.


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