Australia's 1.3 Million Rivers and Streams

Earlier this year, University of New South Wales student Robbi Bishop-Taylor decided to do a little extracurricular project. As a PhD candidate studying landscape ecology, he spends a lot of time poring over satellite data and creating geospatial images of Australia’s wetlands. Then he got to thinking: what if he used the same data to plot a map of the entire country based only on its 1.3 million rivers and streams?

Robbi got to work collating data from Geoscience Australia, and ended up with a surprisingly vivid picture of the driest inhabited continent in the world.

If that looks suspiciously blue for a place we’re told is more or less in a constant state of drought, that’s because it’s a composite photo of all the rivers and streams that can – but don’t always – flow with water. Some might flow every couple of months, for instance, while others lie dormant for centuries. Here’s the same map, but only showing where the water flows permanently:

Pretty dry, huh.

While not technically part of his PhD, Robbi hopes his maps will help to draw attention to the environmental issues at the centre of his work. And if you like what you see, you can buy prints from his Etsy store