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It is impossible to overstate the importance of freshwater in our daily lives – for proof, try going without it for any length of time. Surface waterbodies (lakes, ponds, rivers, creeks, estuaries… it doesn't matter what name they go under) are particularly important because they come into direct contact with us and our biophysical environment. But our knowledge concerning where and when waterbodies might be found was, until recently, surprisingly sparse. The paucity of information was because trying to map a moving target is actually very difficult – and waterbodies undeniably move, in both geographical space and time.
This Atlas is part of the outreach; it is not a guide to the Global Surface Water Explorer, it is not a Google Earth Engine tutorial (though if it inspires you to visit either of these resources then it has achieved one of its objectives), but it is a stand-alone window into how people and nature affect, and are affected by the 4.46 million km2 of the Earth's landmass that have been under water at some time over the past 35 years.
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