Posted: 21 Mar 2010 09:00 PM PDT
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Rivers connect Earth's mountains and lakes to its oceans, creating lifelines that provide water, food, transportation and recreation along the way. Some rivers, like the Nile, bring life to barren landscapes that would otherwise be uninhabitable. Others, like the Mississippi, defy our best efforts to tame them.
Rivers carve their way across the continents, some becoming ever more entrenched while others meander freely across the surface. The myriad paths they carve make patterns that are best seen from above.
In this gallery, we've collected images from satellites and astronauts of some of the longest, twistiest, most beautiful and interesting rivers in the world.
Click on any image in this gallery for a high-resolution version.
Rio Negro, Argentina
The Rio Negro in Argentina is a beautiful example of how mobile some rivers are. This is one of the most meandering rivers in South America. In the image above, taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station on January 4, the river has left scars all across the floodplain as it moved and carved new channels. Some of the old river channels still have water in them and are known as oxbow lakes.
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