The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has recalculated its total stream mileage based on a modern mapping technology.
For the last three years park scientists have used a combination of aircraft-mounted scanners and Global Positioning System verification to produce highly precise digital maps of the park's topography.
Scientists now say the park's 800 square miles includes 2,900 miles of streams. The previous estimate was 2,000 stream miles based on topographic maps. Of the park's 2,900 miles of streams, 1,073 miles are large enough to support fish, according to scientists.
Under the new criterion, a water feature is considered a stream if it exhibits the hydrologic, geomorphologic, and biologic characteristics of moving water at least part of the year.
Working with the U.S. Geological Survey, the park has placed the new stream data into the National Hyrdography Dataset that gives researchers and the public real-time access to detailed information about streams across the nation. Park staff and researcher partners rely heavily on the NHD to monitor water quality and aquatic ecosystems.
The NHD is accessible through The National Map at http://viewer.nationalmap.gov/viewer/ and remapped streams inside the park can be seen at http://www.nps.gov/npmap/park-tiles/#10/35.6032/-83.4659.
©2015 the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.)