Rivers, Estuaries, & Deltas


Climate Change Likely Caused Migration, Demise of Ancient Indus Valley Civilization

Climate Change Likely Caused Migration, Demise of Ancient Indus Valley Civilization

More than 4,000 years ago, the Harappa culture thrived in the Indus River Valley of what is now modern Pakistan and northwestern India, where they built sophisticated cities, invented sewage systems that predated ancient Rome’™s, and engaged in long-distance trade with settlements in Mesopotamia. Yet by 1800 BCE, this advanced culture had abandoned their cities, moving instead to smaller villages in the Himalayan foothills. A new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found evidence that climate change likely drove the Harappans to resettle far away from the floodplains of the Indus.

Read More

On (and Below) the Waterfront

On (and Below) the Waterfront

The expansion of the New York metropolitan area’s harbor over the decades has led to big but hidden changes in tidal flows that have environmental impacts.

Read More

Study Finds Link Between River Outflow and Coastal Sea Level

Study Finds Link Between River Outflow and Coastal Sea Level

Sea levels in coastal areas can be affected by a number of factors: tides, winds, waves, and even barometric pressure all play a role in the ebb and flow of the ocean. For the first time, however, a new study led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has shown that river outflow could play a role in sea level change as well.

Read More

Geologic History of Ayeyawady River Delta Mapped for the First Time

Geologic History of Ayeyawady River Delta Mapped for the First Time

The Ayeyawady River delta in Myanmar is home to millions of people, and is a hub of agricultural activity. Unlike other large rivers across the world, however, the Ayeyawady has been relatively untouched by large infrastructure and dam projects for the past 50 years, and its geologic evolution has never previously been studied.

Read More

Mountain Erosion May Add Carbon Dioxide to Atmosphere

Mountain Erosion May Add Carbon Dioxide to Atmosphere

Scientists have long known that steep mountain ranges can draw carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere as erosion exposes new rock, it also starts a chemical reaction between minerals on hill slopes and CO2 in the air, weathering the rock and using CO2 to produce carbonate minerals like calcite.

Read More

Human-Engineered Changes on Mississippi River Increased Extreme Floods

Human-Engineered Changes on Mississippi River Increased Extreme Floods

Over the last century, many of the world’s major rivers have been modified for the purposes of flood control, power generation, and commercial navigation. A new study out of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution suggests that engineering modifications to the Mississippi River interact with the have increased the risk of extreme floods to unprecedented levels.

Read More

Where Fresh is Cool in Bay of Bengal

Where Fresh is Cool in Bay of Bengal

Each summer, the South Asian monsoon transforms parts of India from semi-arid into lush green lands able to support farming. The annual infusion of rainfall and resulting runoff into the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and other rivers in the region also has a very different, but no less dramatic, impact on the Bay of Bengal in the northeast Indian Ocean.

Read More

Up in the Sky!

Up in the Sky!

Nope, it’s not a bird or a plane. It’s a drone on a scientific mission to restore a river long…

Read More

Earth’s Riverine Bloodstream

Earth's Riverine Bloodstream

Like blood in our arteries in our body, water in rivers carry chemical signals that can tell us a lot about how the entire Earth system operates.

Read More

Study Reveals How Rivers Regulate Global Carbon Cycle

Humans concerned about climate change are working to find ways of capturing excess carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and sequestering it in the Earth. But Nature has its own methods for the removal and long-term storage of carbon, including the world’s river systems, which transport decaying organic material and eroded rock from land to the ocean.

While river transport of carbon to the ocean is not on a scale that will bail humans out of our CO2 problem, we don’t actually know how much carbon the world’s rivers routinely flush into the ocean – an important piece of the global carbon cycle.

But in a study published May 14 in the journal Nature, scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) calculated the first direct estimate of how much and in what form organic carbon is exported to the ocean by rivers. The estimate will help modelers predict how the carbon export from global rivers may shift as Earth’s climate changes.

Read More