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Photo-iss012e15035
International Space Station Imagery
The confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers at Cairo, Illinois
high res (1.7 M) low res (112 K)
ISS012-E-15035 (12 Jan. 2006) --- The confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers at Cairo, Illinois is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 12 crew member on the International Space Station. The Ohio River becomes a tributary of the Mississippi River directly to the south of Cairo, Illinois, a small city on the spit of land where the rivers converge (at center of image). Brown sediment-laden water flowing generally northeast to south from the Ohio River is distinct from the green and relatively sediment-poor water (northwest- to south-flowing) of the Mississippi River. The coloration of the rivers in this image is reversed from the usual condition of a green Ohio and a brown Mississippi. According to scientists, this suggests that recent precipitation in the Ohio River watershed, with very high rainfall over the Appalachians and the northeastern United States in December 2005, has led to a greater sediment load in the Ohio waters. The distinct boundary between the two riverís waters indicates that little to no mixing occurs even 3-4 miles (5-6 kilometers) downstream. The city of Cairo became a prosperous port following the Civil War due to increased riverboat and railroad commerce. Small features on the Ohio are river barges and indicate the continued importance of Cairo as a transport hub. Flooding of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers presents a continual danger to the city; this danger is lessened by the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway that begins directly to the south of the river confluence. The floodway lowers flood stages upstream (such as at Cairo) and adjacent to the floodway during major flood events. Part of the extensive levee system associated with flood control of the Mississippi River is visible in the image. Barlow Bottoms (image right), located in adjacent Kentucky, are a wetlands bird watching location that is replenished by periodic floods and releases of Ohio River water.

Curator: JSC PAO Web Team | Responsible NASA Official: Amiko Kauderer | Updated: 10/30/2012
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