AS Physical Geography


Drainage Basin: The Thames Basin

Source: Cirencester     Mouth: Dartford

Water Supply: 4700 million litres a day is abstracted.

Industrial Development: Iron and steel works are located in floodplains because the land is cheap, there is water for cooling purposes and river for easy trasnport.

Energy Development: HEP is not used as the channel isn't steep enough.

Recreation and Leisure: Rivers are used for punting and water sports in Oxford.


- Thames Barrier provides protection to 420,000 properties. 

- Shuts 3 times a year on average.


- The value of wetlands, mudflats and estauries are seen as hotspots for important biodiversity.

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Rivers as a Multi-use: The Thames Basin and Mekong

Thames:                                                           Mekong:

- 14 counties                                                      - 6 countries

Industrial Development:

- Chalk, limestone and sand for mineral                - First bridge built in 1994 between Laos and       extraction.                                                         Thailand.

Recreation and Leisure:

- Valleys are used for sports, farming and              - Conflict between residents who fish for an       gardens and allotments.                                       income and government who develop for                                                                                  tourism.

Energy Development:

- River Cole has a mill that was used for grinding   - Steep relief and high volume of water. 5% is     grain.                                                                 being used for HEP - 1600MW a day.

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Flooding: Boscastle (Causes, Effects and Managemen

Boscastle: August 2004, 200mm of precipitation in 5 hours.

Causes: - Low pressure in Atlantic causing a large depression and thunderstorms.

             - Surface runoff from saturated V-Shaped valleys.

             - Confluence of 3 rivers (Valency, Jordan and Paradise)

Effects: - 1000 people were swept away, 1 broken thumb, 0 deaths.

            - 58 properties flooded, 84 cars recovered from harbour.

            - 300 metres of sewer pipes blocked causing contaminated flood water.

Management: - Underground pipe getting rid of water from River Jordan quicker.

                     - River Valency beds being widened allowing for more water to be held.

                     - Low bridge has been re-built with a higher structure.

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Flooding: Bangladesh (Causes, Effects and Manageme

Bangladesh: 80% of country is a floodplain with 75% only 10 metres above sea level.

Causes: - Deforestation in the Himalayas increases surface runoff and soil erosion.

             - Water carries topsoil into rivers, raising the river bed.

             - Over 3/4 of the population live at the confluence of 3 rivers.

Effects: - 23 million people made homeless, country's rice stock was wiped out.

            - 1/4 of children under 5 were malnourished and widespread starvation was forecast.

            - Dhaka's sweage system collpased and drinking water supply was contaminated.

Management: - International aid meant that the disaster did not become a catastrophe.

                     - Government bought 350,000 tonnes of cereal from Asian countries.

                     - World Health Organisation launched an appeal for medicine and water                                        purification tablets.

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River Management: Thames and Bangladesh


Land use zoning - Areas vulnerable to flooding are used for farming, recreation and allotments.

Flood relief schemes - Large reduction in peak flow in floods between Oxford and London.

Urbanisation - If runoff is increased, less water remains in the soil becoming less saturated.



Huge embankments and levees run along the length of the main rivers.

Sluices can be opened to reduce river flow and to control the damage caused by flooding. 

Embankments are set back from rivers to protect them against erosive power.

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Cold Environments: Examples of Landforms

Meltwater Channel - Glen Roy, Scotland

Truncated Spur - Glen Dee, Scotland

Arete - Lake District

Ribbon Lakes - Lake Windermere

Cirque - Snowdon, Wales

Tarn - Red Tarn, Helvelyn

Erratic - Sampson's Toe, Malham 

Drumlin - Ribblesdale

Glacial Trough - Alps

Fjords - South West Norway

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Cold Fragile Environments: Alps and Europe

Alpine Flora:

High elevations = Flowers bloom Lower elevations = Growing season is longer.

Adaptations include - Bright pigments to protect from UV radiation.

                             - Hairs on the leaves to reduce moisture loss.

                             - Growing close to the ground reduces moisture loss from lower wind                                            speeds.

Alpine Fauna:

Adaptations include - Thick, coarse fur with padding on their feet.

                             - Unique blood types that adapt to less oxygen in the air.

                             - Mountain goats have round bodies that helps keep them warm.

Permafrost - Melting and causing threats to economic development.

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Issues with Development: Ski Tourism in Europe and


Environmental Impact - Removes natural protection against avalanches and it degrades                                                  habitats.

                                 - Exhaust fumes from cars lead to air pollution.

                                 - New resort construction involves reshaping of slopes causing instability.

Chemicals used in preparing 36 glaciers in the Alps have caused increases in water pollution.


Environmental Impact - Disruption of natural processes through infrastructure development.

                                - Oil settling pits and broken pipelines are the sources of soil pollution. 

Socio-political Impact - Population redistribution away from hunting territories.

                                - Mental health problems due to lack of employment.

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Sustainable Development: The Alps and Antarctica

Alps: Matterhorn Ski Resort covers a large area.

Management: - New cableways made out of damaged goods such as old ski lifts and huts.

                     - Segregated conservation areas with notices and nearby observation points.

                     - Jute netting has been used to stabilise the steepest parts of the slopes.

Antarctica: 1000 winter scientists stay their all year round.

Impacts: - Strict regulations for waste disposal and management at stations and field camps are                  specified.

Management: - Antartic Treaty says that it should only be used for peaceful purposes.

                     - Only 500 people per boat are allowed at once. 

                     - 46 countries have now signed the treaty.

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Arid Environments: Examples of Landforms

Desert Pavement - Mojave Desert, California

Mesas, Buttes and Spires - Courthouse Rock, Nebraska

Zuegen - Sahara Desert

Salt Pans - Kalahari Desert

Pedestal Rock - Niger

Deflation Hollows - Quattara Depression

Ventifacts - Farafra Desert

Yardangs - Kharga Desert

Wadis - Oman

Sand Sheet - Sudan

Sand Seas - Simpson Desert

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Characteristics of Arid Environments: Uluru and Na

Uluru - Inselberg 340 metres above the plain.


Flaking of the rock surface is a result of insolation weathering and crystal growth. Rock layers are also etched with tafoni. Water has dissolved the iron that has been re-deposited as a think skin of iron oxide. Pressure release causes sheet fractures which are 2 metres thick. Deep chemical weathering at the bottom of the rock as a form of hydrolysis causes curved slopes.

Namib Desert - Comprised of gravel plains, isolated inselbergs and large dune fields.


Linear dunes are orientated north to south and occupy 75% of the sand sea. Barchans form along the coastal *****. Yardangs occur in the southern part of the desert are made of dolomite which are parallel to south-east winds. 

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Issues with Development: Agriculture in Thar Deser

Thar Desert 

Challenges - Dust storms cause dunes to migrate blocking roads and railways.

                 - Groundwater is too deep and saline for human consumption.

                 - Deforestation, monoculture and overgrazing cause soil erosion.

Oppurtunities - Irrigated water has been used to grow crops such as rice, groundnut, mustard, wheat and sugar cane. 

Mining in Australia

Challenges - Construction of roads, pipelines and facilities removes vegetation and soils.

                 - Mining operations are visible for long distances and are an eyesore.

                 - Acids are forced into the groundwater to remove the uranium.

Oppurtunities - Aboriginal groups earn an annual rent, can also reach remote hunting areas.

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Sustainable Practises: Valley of the Kings, Egypt

Valley of the Kings

- Dehumidifiers, glass screens and closing selected tombs allow humidity levels to fall.

- Limited numbers of visitors are allowed in at one time into popular tombs especially Tutankahmen.

- Higher entry fees to limit numbers.

- Moving car parks and replacing tarmac with sand and gravel sprayed with polymer so they are less visually intrusive.

Niger Agriculture

- Incorporating vegetation into the soil to increase organic matter to improve infiltration.

- Mineral fertiliser would increase crop yields but most people can't afford it.

- Trees and shrubs are planted in strips to act as a windbreak.

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