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Page 1

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The Long Profile
A long profile shows you how the gradient of the river channel changes from the river's
source to its mouth by showing the height of the river bed above the base level for the
whole length of the river.

The base level is the lowest point that…

Page 2

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The Upper Course
The gradient is steep and the river is high above sea level which gives it lots of potential

Vertical erosion takes place.

The rough channel causes turbulence and the large, angular bedload is dragged along the
river bed causing intense vertical erosion.

Mainly large particles, such…

Page 3

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Downstream Changes

Discharge and Velocity
The velocity and discharge of a river increase as you go downstream from source to mouth.

Discharge increases as tributaries and more surface runoff join the main channel.

River velocity is influenced by gradient, discharge and channel characteristics ­ the shape
and the roughness.


Page 4

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The Cross Profile

Upper Course Steep V shapes
Vertical erosion creates narrow valley floors and steep sloped

Middle Course Wider valleys
Lateral erosion
Deposition creates a flood plain on the valley floor

Lower Course Wide valleys
Lateral erosion
Much wider flood plain cause by deposition

Page 5

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The Bradshaw Model


Mr A Gibson


I find students often get mixed up with the profile changes along the course of the river - this document give a clear guide to the main points and uses effective diagrams to help with the explanations.

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