Rivers definitions

Drainage basin
The area drained by a river and its tributaries.
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Rain, snow, hail, fog, mist, drizzle, etc.
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Water loss from plants and animals.
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The storage of rainfall on vegetation. (Eg rain falling into trees).
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Penetration of water through the soil surface.
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Water seeping downwards through the ground.
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Water seeping sideways through the soil
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Groundwater flow
Water seeping sideways through permeable rocks.
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Surface flow
Rapid flow over the surface (not in a channel).
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Water table
The top surface of the saturated part of permeable rocks.
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Channel flow
Rivers and streams.
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The amount of channel flow (measured in cubic metres per second - cumecs).
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Sediment on the river bed.
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The smoothing and rounding of sediment as it crashes into eachother.
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The wearing away of the bed and banks by the load of the river.
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The chemical breakdown and removal of soluble.
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Hydraulic action
Erosion by the power of moving water.
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Rolling or dragging material along the river bed.
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When particles are bounced along the river bed.
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When particles are carried within the flow of the river.
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Minerals that are dissolved in the river water.
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Hydraulic radius
A measure of channel efficiency. Higher values mean greater efficiency. (Cross-sectional area % wetter perimeter).
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Wetted perimeter
The length of the channel cross section in contact with the water.
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The wearing away of rock by agents of erosion.
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The chemical and physical breakdown of rocks by elements of the weather.
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Base flow
Water that reaches the river mainly by slow processes.
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Storm flow
Water that reaches the channel rapidly by surface run-off.
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Lag time
The length of time from peak rainfall to peak discharge.
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Bankfull discharge
When the channel is full.
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Potential evapotranspiration
The amount of water that could be lost from plants and the surface if that water was available.
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Field capacity
When all soil pores are full and there is no further storage capacity in the soil.
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The maximum size of particle the river is capable of carrying.
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The total volume of sediment that can be carried.
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Where the river flows (in non-flood conditions)
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Valley cross-section
A view from across the valley at a right angle to the river.
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Long profile
The shape and gradient of the valley from source to mouth.
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Graded profile
A smooth, curved long profile resulting from gradual adjustment of the river to current base level (sea-level).
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When active vertical erosion begins, following a fall in base level. A lower long profile develops moving from mouth to source.
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Knick point
The point along the long profile that rejuvenation has reached indicated by a change in gradient.
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Incised meander
Where rejuvenation causes a meander to vertically erode into the underlying rocks.
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River terrace
Part of a flood plain left above the active flood plain level following rejuvenation.
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Multiple channels in a river formed by the deposition of a very large sediment load.
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The deeper section within a meander.
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The shallow section within a meander.
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The size of a flood.
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How often an event occurs.
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Recurrence interval
How often floods of a particular size will occur.
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Giving a river channel 'man made' characteristics to increase capacity. Eg straightening.
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Restoring river channels to a more original state, removing restrictive structures and hard engineering.
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Floodplain zoning
Altering the land use within a river valley to allow for the risk of certain levels of flood.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


Rain, snow, hail, fog, mist, drizzle, etc.



Card 3


Water loss from plants and animals.


Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4


The storage of rainfall on vegetation. (Eg rain falling into trees).


Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5


Penetration of water through the soil surface.


Preview of the back of card 5
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