Follow that raindrop - on its epic journey

Screenshot of a visualisation of a raindrop journey in Spain

A fascinating interactive map showing the path a raindrop would take anywhere in the world has gone live.

The Global River Runner is a visualisation simulating a raindrop’s journey, after it runs off into a stream and onto a river or ocean and is very easy to use.

A drop of rain that falls in Kansas, US, could travel a total of 3,340 km to the Gulf of Mexico. From Pará, Brazil, rain is likely to flow 1,443km to Marajó Bay. From Segovia, Spain, raindrops may flow 612km to the North Atlantic Ocean.

Developed by data analyst Sam Learner, using data from the US Geological Survey, with support from the survey's water team and the online internet of water (IoW), the tool aims to illustrate the extent to which the world’s watercourses interconnect and how far pollution can travel, once it enters a river or stream.

"It is a clear illustration of how interconnected we are and how what we put in a river or stream is likely to end up in someone else’s water."

Sam Learner, Global River Runner

Pollution from New Delhi is likely to end up in the Bay of Bengal. Rubbish dropped in the Austrian Alps, could travel to the Black Sea. Debris entering the water in Qinghai province, China, may flow 6,342km away to the East China Sea.

Learner said: “It’s fascinating to observe the epic journey a single raindrop could take, as it ends up in a little pocket of a country you didn’t know about.

"It’s also a clear illustration of how interconnected we are and how what we put in a river or stream is likely to end up in someone else’s water. I hope users will the tool accessible, informative and engaging.”