Earth Science

Where the River Flows: Scientific Reflections on Earth's Waterways

The vital interconnections that rivers share with the land, the sky, and us


Aug 6, 2019
5.5 x 8.5 in.
40 b/w illus. 2 tables.
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Rivers are essential to every aspect of civilization, from brewing beer to building computers, yet how many of us understand how they work? Where the River Flows takes you on a journey along our planet’s waterways, providing a scientist’s reflections on the profound interrelationships that rivers have with landscapes, ecosystems, and societies.

Drawing on examples ranging from backyard creeks to evocative rivers like the Mississippi, Yangtze, Thames, and Congo, Sean Fleming looks at rivers through the lens of physics, using abundant graphics and intuitive analogies to explore surprising connections between watershed hydrology and the world around us. He explains how river flows fluctuate like stock markets, what “digital rainbows” tell us about climate change and its effects on water, how building virtual watersheds in silicon may help avoid water wars, and more. Along the way, you’ll see what communications theory, fractals, artificial life, and other exciting scientific ideas reveal about the life of rivers.