- The Rhine is Europe's busiest river. It is 1320km long.
- Its course rising in the Swiss Alps from melting snow and passing through Switzerland, Germany, France and the Netherlands before entering the north Sea.
- The Rhine Basin includes a population of 40 million from 9 countries and some of the world's most important industrial and agriculture areas.
- On Dutch border the Rhine rose 16.66m above sea level.
- In late January / early February 1995, the Rhine suffered catastrophic flooding. Disruption was great in the Netherlands where 75 per cent of the land is below sea level.
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Effects on human activity/ environment
- Building - Spread of impermeable man-made surfaces has increased the speed with which run-off enters the rivers channels.
- Farming techniques - Soils store less water and surface run-off increases.
- Clearing of vegetation - Farmers cutting hedges/trees mean less vegetation to soak up water.
- Embankments - Creates faster and deeper river flow.
- Channel changes - speed up flow so that a flood surge takes two - three days instead of five to move downstream.
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- Heavy rainfall meant that soils were saturated
- Unusually mild temperatures that melted snow in the Alps produced far too much water with which the basin could cope.
- Groundwater stores were also high as winter rain in the Rhine basin had increased by 40 per cent since 1990, following average temperature rise of 1 to 1.5°C.
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