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The Huang He River in China is a wanderer. Its lower reaches have changed course many times, moving the delta up and down the coast several hundred kilometers over the centuries.

The Huang He (Yellow) River is over 4,800 kilometers long. It’s the 2nd longest river in China and the 5th longest in the world. It’s also the muddiest river on Earth. On its long journey, the river crosses a soft plateau that’s covered with fine, wind-blown soil. The river carries away millions of tons of this delta-building material every year. The Huang He derives its yellow color from fine particles of mica, quartz, and feldspar.

The river shows up well in most of these Landsat images because of the high sediment load, which reflects light. The sediment even shows up in the water of many of these images where the river flows into the sea.

Imagery

Every picture has a story to tell
June 2, 1976, Landsat 2 (path/row 130/34) — Huang He Delta, China
May 27, 1979, Landsat 3 (path/row 130/34) — Huang He Delta, China
June 7, 1984, Landsat 2 (path/row 121/34) — Huang He Delta, China
Sept. 23, 1991, Landsat 5 (path/row 121/34) — Huang He Delta, China
Oct. 7, 1999, Landsat 7 (path/row 121/34) — Huang He Delta, China
Sept. 2, 2001, Landsat 5 (path/row 121/34) — Huang He Delta, China
Sept. 11, 2010, Landsat 5 (path/row 121/34) — Huang He Delta, China
Oct. 5, 2013, Landsat 8 (path/row 121/34) — Huang He Delta, China
Oct. 27, 2015, Landsat 8 (path/row 121/34) — Huang He Delta, China
Sep. 30, 2017, Landsat 8 (path/row 121/34) — Huang He Delta, China
Oct. 3, 2018, Landsat 8 (path/row 121/34) — Huang He Delta, China
Oct. 24, 2020, Landsat 8 (path/row 121/34) — Huang He Delta, China

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References (Earthshot Overview/Parent Only)

Bi, N., Yang, Z., Wang, H., Hu, B., and Ji, Y., 2010, Sediment dispersion pattern off the present Huanghe (Yellow River) subdelta and its dynamic mechanism during normal river discharge period: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, v. 86, p. 352–362.

Demographia, 2015, Demographia World Urban Areas--Built-Up Urban Areas or World Agglomerations (11th ed.): Belleville, Ill., Demographia, 126 p., available online at http://demographia.com/db-worldua.pdf.

Fan, H., Huang, H., and Zeng, T., 2006, Impacts of anthropogenic activity on the recent evolution of the Huanghe (Yellow) River Delta: Journal of Coastal Research, v. 22, no. 4, p. 919–929.

German Aerospace Center, 2014, The Yellow River Delta: Delta Information System for Geoenvironmental and Human Habitat Transition, accessed April 19, 2018, at http://www.delight.eoc.dlr.de/en.html.

Lindsey, R., 2010, Yellow River Delta, 1989 and 2009: NASA Earth Observatory, available online at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=42439. (Accessed March 25, 2013.)

NASA, 2009, Yellow River Delta: NASA Earth Observatory, available online at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=4767. (Accessed March 25, 2013.)

NASA, 2009, World of Change—Yellow River Delta: NASA Earth Observatory, available online at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/WorldOfChange/yellow_river.php. (Accessed March 25, 2013.)

Scott, M., 2009, Yellow River Delta, China: NASA Earth Observatory, available online at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=36236. (Accessed March 25, 2013.)

UNEP, 2005, Coastal areas—Huang He Delta, China, in One planet, many people—atlas of our changing environment: Nairobi, Kenya, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), p. 102–103.

Wang, H., Yang, Z., Saito, Y., Liu, J.P., Sun, X., and Wang, Y., 2007, Stepwise decreases of the Huanghe (Yellow River) sediment load (1950–2005)—impacts of climate change and human activities: Global and Planetary Changes, v. 57, p. 331–354.

World Almanac Books, 2012, The World Almanac Book of Facts: New York, World Almanac Books.

WorldFish Center, 2010, Wetlands of the Yellow River Delta—A Heritage to Conserve and Treasure: Penang, Malaysia, The WorldFish Center, 6 p.

Yang, Z., Ji, Y., Bi, N., Lei, K., and Wang, H., 2011, Sediment transport off the Huanghe (Yellow River) delta and in the adjacent Bohai Sea in winter and seasonal comparison: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, v. 3, no. 1, p. 173–181.

Yu, J., Fu, Y., Li, Y., Han, G., Wang, Y., Zhou, D., Sun, W., Gao, Y., and Meixner, F.X., 2011, Effects of water discharge and sediment load on evolution of modern Yellow River Delta, China, over the period from 1976 to 2009: Biogeosciences, v. 8, no. 9, p. 2427–2435.

Yu, J., Wang, Y., Li, Y., Dong, H., Zhou, D., Han, G., Wu, H., Wang, G., Mao, P., and Gao, Y., 2012, Soil organic carbon storage changes in coastal wetlands of the modern Yellow River Delta from 2000 to 2009: Biogeosciences, v. 9, p. 2325–2331.

Zhu, Z., Giordano, M., Cai, X., and Molden, D., 2004, The Yellow River Basin—Water accounting, water accounts, and current issues: International Water Resources Association, v. 29, no. 1, p. 2–10.

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