World's 3rd longest river now even longer?

A Chinese boy plays by the eroding banks
A boy plays by the eroding banks of China's mighty Yangtze river in the central Hubei province town of Jianli. The Yangtze is the longest river in China.AFP - Getty Images file
/ Source: The Associated Press

A group of international explorers on Tuesday claimed it had pinpointed a new site for the source of China's storied Yangtze River, placing it 4 miles farther west than previously thought.

The explorers, led by Hong Kong's Wong How Man, spent 30 days in China's remote Tanggula Mountains along the Tibetan plateau in May and June.

Using satellite imagery and state-of-the-art computer technology, the team said it had concluded that the Yangtze is actually 3883.6 miles (6,250 kilometers) long — not the 3,857 miles (6,207.2 kilometers) that a 1985 foray had suggested.

Wong also participated in the 1985 trip.

However, pinpointing the Yangtze's source has been the object of a number of recent expeditions — including one mounted by Chinese scientists in 2000 — and the claims of the Wong-led group could not be independently verified.

Former NASA researcher Martin Ruzek, navigation coordinator for the 19-member team, insisted the group's discovery was valid.

"Just like finding the tallest mountain or the deepest ocean, the farthest point that water flows to the sea is significant," he said. "(And) geographically speaking, we've located that point."

Ruzek said that advanced technology was the key to the expedition's findings, allowing it to perform functions that only a few years ago would not have been possible.

"We have computers that we can take along with us that are powerful enough to do data processing in real time," he said.

The group also had access to photos taken by the Landsat 7, a satellite that takes high resolution digital images of the earth's surface.

The Yangtze expedition was sponsored by Rhythms Monthly, a Taipei-based cultural and geographical magazine.

The Yangtze is the longest river in China, and the third longest in the world, after the Nile and the Amazon.