NASA image shows North Carolina’s contaminated rivers flowing into the Atlantic

Hurricane Florence dropped roughly eight trillion gallons of water on North Carolina, washing contaminants into the rivers and other waterways.

An image taken by NASA Landsat 8 on September 19 shows darkened water heading into the Atlantic Ocean.

“Soils, sediments, decaying leaves, pollution, and other debris have discolored the water in the swollen rivers, bays, estuaries, and the nearshore ocean,” the agency notes.

Another satellite image taken that same day shows the spread of that water.

Regarding the colors in the photo, NASA explains, “Organic matter—such as leaves, roots, or bark—contain pigments and chemicals (such as tannins) that can color the water when they dissolve.”

“Depending on the amount of dissolved particles, the water in natural-color imagery can appear blue, green, yellow, or brown as the [colored dissolved organic matter] concentration increases,” the agency further states.

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