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Ananth Krishnan, The Hindu / BEIJING, August 22, 2011.
Chinese scientists have completed a first of its kind study to pinpoint the sources of the Brahmaputra and Indus rivers using satellite images, and have found that the length and drainage areas of both rivers exceeded earlier estimates.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), an official think-tank in Beijing, used remote-sensing satellite images and data from several expeditions to the Tibetan plateau to map the sources of the Brahmaputra, Indus, Salween and Irrawaddy rivers.
They located the source of the Brahmaputra, or Yarlung Tsangpo as it is known in Tibet, on the Angsi glacier on the northern side of the Himalayas, in the Tibetan country of Burang. The source of the river was earlier thought to be on the Chemayungdung glacier, further south.
The CAS study has mapped the river's length at 3,848 km, while earlier studies had estimated its length at 2,900-3,350 km. It also measured its drainage area at 712,035 sq km, with earlier estimates ranging from 520,000 sq km to 1.73 million sq km.
“Previously, the sources of the four rivers were never clearly designated, and differing accounts regarding their lengths and drainage areas confused researchers for many years due to restrictions of natural conditions and surveying and mapping technologies,” Liu Shaochuang, a researcher with the Institute of Remote Sensing Applications at CAS, was quoted as saying by the State-run Xinhua news agency.
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