Australia from Space: Menindee Lakes

Astronaut image of Menindee Lakes

Menindee Lakes, as photographed by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

IN THE FAR WEST of New South Wales, Australia, near the town of Menindee, a system of ephemeral, freshwater lakes are fed by the Darling River when it floods. Lake Tandou is the longest, at 18.6 kilometres from north to south. The Darling River itself was flowing in December 2011 when this image was made.

The Darling River flows southwest in tortuous fashion across the flat landscapes of this part of Australia. It has created several inland deltas in its course to the sea, with characteristic diverging channel patterns marked by younger sediments that appear greyer than the ancient red soils and rocks surrounding them.

One inland delta appears at image right, where minor channels wind across the countryside. The apex of another inland delta appears at image lower left.

Some of the Menindee Lakes have been incorporated into an artificially regulated overflow system providing for flood control, water storage for domestic use and livestock, and downstream irrigation.

The floor of Lake Tandou is used as prime agricultural land, as evidenced by its patchwork of irrigated fields that are protected from flooding. The lakes also serve as important wetlands supporting a rich diversity of birds.

Text adapted from information issued by M. Justin Wilkinson, Jacobs/ESCG at NASA-JSC. Astronaut photograph provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Centre.

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