Dendritic Drainage Patterns

June 28, 2008


Provided and copyright by: Dale Chadwick
Summary authors & editors: Dale Chadwick

This photo taken from a commercial jet at 35,000 feet (10,668 m) shows the divides between different drainage basins in western Nebraska. A red line is traced onto the image to better show these divides. Note the dendritic (branching like a tree) shape of the stream patterns, which cut into the prairie landscape. South is at the top of the photograph. The largest stream on the photo, at lower left, drains to the northeast. The area at upper left is being farmed and isn't actually part of any of the other drainage systems. A dusting of snow on this mid-winter's day of January 18, 2008, helps to emphasize the dendritic pattern, as does the relatively low Sun angle. Dendritic drainage patterns are typically observed at both very small scales such as backyards and very large continental scales.