Ghosts of Rivers Past

The Vistula River (Wisla) floodplain near Szczucin, Poland.

Artist Dan Coe uses lidar data to create portraits of rivers and their past meanders. Used aerially, lidar produces high-resolution elevation data that provides a glimpse of features that are currently hidden beneath vegetation. With rivers, this means unearthing some of their previous paths. Secondary flows in a river bend erode the bed so that the bend gets more and more strongly curved. Eventually, the river can double back on itself and cut off the long curve. Repeat that process over millennia and you wind up with the complex paths in Coe’s images. (Image credit: D. Coe; via Colossal)

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