Mapped: The Drainage Basins of the World’s Longest Rivers
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Drainage Basins of the World’s Longest Rivers
Most of the earth’s surface is covered in water, but less than 1% of it is the fresh water that makes up the rivers and lakes we’re familiar with.
The water we encounter in life is moving through the stages of the water cycle. And even though rivers make up a tiny portion of all fresh water, they’re still one of the most visible parts of that cycle, especially for the billions of people who live in cities and towns built alongside them.
Of course, rivers don’t just appear out of nowhere. They’re the end result of water’s land-based journey–the product of many compounding inflows collected within a drainage basin.
The map above, from Reddit user r/CountZapolai, illustrates how massive the drainage basins can be for the world’s longest rivers.
What is a Drainage Basin?
A river’s drainage basin is defined as the area of land where precipitation collects and drains off, feeding the flow of rivers and their tributaries. Simply put, this is the process of water draining from higher points of land to lower laying areas–as demonstrated by the animation below.
In the case the world’s longest rivers, these drainage basins can span across entire continents and cross many international borders.
Fueling the World’s Longest Rivers
The longer a river system gets, the more terrain it passes through. It comes as no surprise then that the longest rivers are supported by immense drainage basins.
Here are the world’s top 10 longest rivers, and the size of their respective basins:
|Rank||River system||Length in miles (km)||Drainage area in miles² (km²)||Outflow||Countries in basin|
|East China Sea||🇨🇳|
|Gulf of Mexico||🇺🇸🇨🇦|
|6||Huang He (Yellow River)||3,395 |
|Gulf of Ob||🇷🇺🇰🇿🇨🇳🇲🇳|
|8||Río de la Plata||3,030 |
|Río de la Plata||🇧🇷🇦🇷🇵🇾🇧🇴🇺🇾|
|Sea of Okhotsk||🇷🇺🇨🇳🇲🇳|
Note: There is debate about the actual length of certain river systems. See a more comprehensive range of estimates here.
These 10 longest rivers alone are fed by a land area equivalent to the size of Africa.
Of those, the Amazon Basin is the largest in the world by far, covering one-third of the South American continent.
River Drainage Basins and Humanity
The fact that huge population centers sit at the terminuses of many of these key rivers is a testament to how important watersheds are to our survival. Only 10% of the global population lives further than six miles away from a surface freshwater body, and more often than not, that fresh water comes in the form of a river.
Noting where rivers begin their journey is also important as well. In the case of Tibet, many of the world’s longest rivers are fed by drainage basins that begin in the region. In fact, six of Asia’s major rivers begin on the Tibetan Plateau, meeting the basic needs of billions of people.
By illustrating the world’s longest rivers and their drainage basins, maps like this one help put into perspective the breathtaking complexity of Earth’s hydrological cycle.
Mapped: Renewable Energy and Battery Installations in the U.S. in 2023
This graphic describes new U.S. renewable energy installations by state along with nameplate capacity, planned to come online in 2023.
Renewable and Battery Installations in the U.S. in 2023
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Renewable energy, in particular solar power, is set to shine in 2023. This year, the U.S. plans to get over 80% of its new energy installations from sources like battery, solar, and wind.
The above map uses data from EIA to highlight planned U.S. renewable energy and battery storage installations by state for 2023.
Texas and California Leading in Renewable Energy
Nearly every state in the U.S. has plans to produce new clean energy in 2023, but it’s not a surprise to see the two most populous states in the lead of the pack.
Even though the majority of its power comes from natural gas, Texas currently leads the U.S. in planned renewable energy installations. The state also has plans to power nearly 900,000 homes using new wind energy.
California is second, which could be partially attributable to the passing of Title 24, an energy code that makes it compulsory for new buildings to have the equipment necessary to allow the easy installation of solar panels, battery storage, and EV charging.
New solar power in the U.S. isn’t just coming from places like Texas and California. In 2023, Ohio will add 1,917 MW of new nameplate solar capacity, with Nevada and Colorado not far behind.
|Top 10 States||Battery (MW)||Solar (MW)||Wind (MW)||Total (MW)|
The state of New York is also looking to become one of the nation’s leading renewable energy providers. The New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) is making real strides towards this objective with 11% of the nation’s new wind power projects expected to come online in 2023.
According to the data, New Hampshire is the only state in the U.S. that has no new utility-scale renewable energy installations planned for 2023. However, the state does have plans for a massive hydroelectric plant that should come online in 2024.
Renewable energy is considered essential to reduce global warming and CO2 emissions.
In line with the efforts by each state to build new renewable installations, the Biden administration has set a goal of achieving a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and a net zero emissions economy by no later than 2050.
The EIA forecasts the share of U.S. electricity generation from renewable sources rising from 22% in 2022 to 23% in 2023 and to 26% in 2024.
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