ISS052-E-39523
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Spacecraft nadir point: 3.8° S, 67.8° W

Photo center point: 2.7° S, 67.1° W

Nadir to Photo Center: Northeast

Spacecraft Altitude: 220 nautical miles (407km)
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Image Caption: Amazon Meanders in Sunglint

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) focused a camera on the brilliant reflection of sunlight —sunglint—on three sweeping meanders of the Amazon River. The numerous thinner lines show the many remnants of prior channels of this highly mobile river. The reflected sunlight even shows numerous ponds (top left) in this very rainy part of the world. These ponds are usually not visible due to the dense forest cover in central Amazonia.

The Amazon River is the largest by water volume and sediment discharge in the world. The scale of the meanders here are immense compared with other large rivers. The amplitude from the top of the meander to the lower curves of the neighboring meanders is 18 kilometers (11 miles). Average meander amplitudes on the Mississippi River near New Orleans measure 6 kilometers (4 miles).

And the meander amplitude is increasing along this stretch of the river. Images from the late 1960s show the meanders as less winding. Since then, the loops have expanded, eroding the outside edges. Measurements taken from a 1969 photo and from this one show erosion has pushed the outer banks out by more than 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles), while depositing new sediment on the inside of the meander loops.