Rivers Geography GCSE

notes on rivers for GCSE

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  • Created on: 04-06-11 17:41
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Features of a drainage basin/catchment
Drainage basin/catchment ­ an area of land which is drained by a river and its tributaries.
Watershed- the boundary of the drainage basin and is usually found in areas of high relief
Source- the starting point of the river (furthest from mouth)
Mouth- is where the river enters the sea or lake
Confluence- joining point of 2 rivers/tributaries
Channel- river flows along a channel
The drainage basin as a system
The drainage basin is an open system, unlike the global hydrological cycle. It is called an open system
as water can move from one basin/catchment to another.
(A storm may bring water from many miles outside of the drainage basin. Similarly water may be
transported either naturally or artificially out of the drainage basin.)

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Faulting in rocks may cause water to move from one drainage basin to another- a natural
Water may be piped from one river into another to provide water for human use. The Liverpool
Metropolitan area receives 380 million litres of water per day from the river Dee catchment. This
movement has been instigated by humans and is therefore artificial. (Consider the filling of Bewl
Water summer 2006 and the increased need for water transfer to the SE)
1.…read more

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Water percolating deep into underground stores where it is effectively lost from the
3. Stores- places where water is held
Interception by trees- storage on the leaves of trees.
Surface storage- water stored on the surface of the land, lakes/ puddles/ snow/
Soil moisture storage- water stored in the soil.
Groundwater storage- water stored in rocks.
4. Transfers or flows- processes by which water flows through the system.
Stem flow- water which flows down branches and the trunks of the trees.…read more

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River profiles
The long profile
This is a graph drawn along the course of a river from source to mouth.
The profile is generally concave with a steep upper reach and a gentler lower reach.
River processes (erosion, transportation & deposition) are related to the long profile because every
river is trying to achieve a smooth, concave long profile. The ideal long profile is called the graded
long profile.…read more

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Water rarely lands directly on bare surfaces- usually it strikes vegetation first and a significant
amount of water can be stored this way. The amount of water depends on several factors:
Precipitation type; snow, rain, hail
Precipitation intensity
Precipitation duration
Nature of vegetation
Time of the year
Agricultural use
Surface storage
Water can be stored on the surface in puddles- most common in urban areas, ponds, lakes and
wetlands.…read more

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The passing of the warm front of a depression will give a longer period of more steady rain which is
more widespread.
The sun's energy
This provides the heat for evaporation and transpiration to take place.
Interbasin transfers
Water can be passed naturally or artificially between basins.
This should be remembered when considering both inputs and outputs.
Outputs to the drainage basin
Moisture is lost directly into the atmosphere from surfaces of water, soil, sea and plants.…read more

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Land use
Local climate`
Water is reaching the sae (notice how the shape has changed). The sea has shrunk by 70% and this
has had a serious impact on the environment.
Soil storage
Soil storage is highly variable, being completely saturated after a period of heavy rainfall but drying
out after a few weeks of little rain. Soil moisture is important for maintaining stream flow in the
summer and reducing runoff totals in storms.…read more

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Erosion is the "wearing away of the banks and bed and the removal of the rock debris by the
The ability of a river to erode is determined by the amount of energy it possesses.
The water has potential energy- created due to the drop in height between the source and mouth.
It also has kinetic energy which is generated by the movement of the water and is therefore
dependent on a river's discharge.…read more

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The material carried by a river can contribute to the wearing away of its banks and, to a lesser extent
and mainly in the upper course, its bed.
There are four main processes of erosion.
The river carries with it particles of sand and silt and moves pebbles and boulders at times of high
flow. This material rubs against the bed and banks of the river and wears them away. This process is
called abrasion.…read more

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River energy not used for erosion or not lost through friction can be used to transport the river load.
A river obtains its load from 2 main sources.
Material that has been washed, or has fallen, into the river from the valley sides
Material that had been eroded by the river itself from the beds or banks.
A river transports its load in 4 main ways
Traction- large stones and boulders are rolled along the river bed by water moving
downstream.…read more


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