An astronaut onboard the International Space Station (ISS) snapped this photograph of a portion of the Parana River, the second longest river in South America. It flows mostly northeast to southwest for approximately 4,880 kilometers (3,030 miles), passing through Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina and making part of the Argentina - Paraguay border.
This image captures some of the interlocking, braided patterns that are common along the Parana River system. Sediment that eroded upstream from riverbanks in Brazil was carried downriver and deposited and piled up into islands - such as Isla Apipe (Argentina). The sediments also make braid bars, which are smaller, rhomboid-shaped landforms created by the interweaving of water and land as the river level rises and falls over time.
This labyrinth of braided channels also provides routes for small boats and ships, allowing for the transport of goods to inland South America - at least as far upstream as the Yacyreta Dam. Built to generate hydroelectric power, the dam now separates the upper Parana River from the braid bars.
Farmers cultivate crops such as coffee, corn, and cotton in fields adjacent to the Parana River floodplain. These crops, among others, have been affected by ongoing drought conditions that began in the region in 2020 and have slowed the transport of goods decrease in water levels.