NASA | From the River to the Sea

NASA | From the River to the Sea


More than a decade has passed since the waters of the Colorado have reached the Sea of Cortez. During that time, the lower reaches of the river have seen a decline in the amount of healthy vegetation. But a historic agreement between the U.S. and Mexico provided a pulse of water to flow down the riverbed and into the delta region. The lower Colorado River straddles the border between Mexico and the U.S., and the two countries are collaborating to study the hydrologic and ecosystem effects of the pulse flow. For several weeks in the spring of 2014, a pulse of water passed through the Morelos Dam totalling 130 million cubic meters, enough to fill 52,000 Olympic swimming pools. The water quickly filled the formerly dry riverbed. Much of the water soaked into the ground in the first half of the journey, replenishing the supply of ground water. From there it is able to nourish and revitalize the trees, shrubs, and grasses in the riparian corridor surrounding the river. Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey are using data from satellite observations to track how the vegetation responds Data from Landsat 8 shows a 40% increase in green vegetation where the surface water flowed and an overall 23% increase throughout the riparian corridor. The difference between 2014 and 2013 is most noticeable in the wetlands of the lower delta region. Going forward, scientists from both countries will continue to study the impact of the pulse flow; looking to see whether new trees and shrubs take root, and how new vegetation affects resident and migratory birds. [music]

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12 Replies to “NASA | From the River to the Sea”

  1. I live a couple miles west of the Colorado River here in Mexico and people were amazed when they heard about the water flowing again! It's good to hear that scientists are keeping an eye on the vegetation, keep up the good work!

  2. What gives any country the right to stop virtually all the flow of water that flows into another country. Rather greedy.

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