Archive for September 19th, 2006

Puzzling past

Life is a puzzle. Or, a series of puzzles. Certainly, marriage is! Perhaps it is that any complex system is a puzzle, therefore our ecosystem is a puzzle. Anyway, puzzles abound!

Take a look at changes in the sediment load of the Mississippi River from this NYT article. Of course, you notice first that the overall sediment load has dropped by more than half—yet, the dredges are still busy day and night keeping shipping channels open. Then you notice that the relative sizes of the upstream contributor-rivers has changed dramatically—the upper Miss itself has shifted from being a little stub to a multibranched load-carrier. Maybe next: still the largest single contributor-river is the Missouri. And: what’s the deal with that Atchafalaya drainage fork?

The question I’m left with: exactly which Mississippi River (and which Amazon Basin, which Yellowstone Park, etc.) are we talking about “returning�? to (also, see upper graphic)?