Waters

The Amazon River drains approximately 38 percent of continental South America and accounts for 15–16 percent of the total river water reaching the world’s oceans. The Amazon River’s discharge is 5 times that of the Congo and 12 times that of the Mississippi. Estimates of Amazon River discharge have gradually increased in the past two decades as more measurements were made and range on average 215,000-230,000 cubic meters per second. During its flooding season, the Amazon River discharges so much water into the Atlantic that this water travels approximately 160 km out to sea. The seaward freshwater, however, is no deeper than approximately 5 m and, because fresh water is lighter than saltwater, it is literally riding on top of the heavier water. Oceanic water is also slightly cooler, which also contributes to making it heavier than the Amazon River water.

The Amazon River drains approximately 38 percent of continental South America and accounts for 15–16 percent of the total river water reaching the world’s oceans. The Amazon River’s discharge is 5 times that of the Congo and 12 times that of the Mississippi. Estimates of Amazon River discharge have gradually increased in the past two decades as more measurements were made and range on average 215,000-230,000 cubic meters per second.