Rivers may seem like immutable features of the landscape but they are in fact changing color over time, a new study has found.

Researchers compiled a database of satellite images of major rivers in the United States from 1984 to 2018 and learned that about a third have significantly changed color in less than 40 years.

The overall significance of the changes are unclear and could reflect various ways in which humans are impacting the environment, said lead author John Gardner, an assistant professor of geology and environmental science at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Photo Credit: USGS/NASA Landsat