HYDRO- Articles

UNDERSTANDING OUR RIVERS

Rivers and Streams – Water and Sediment in Motion
By: Peter J. Wampler © 2012 Nature Education

How much sediment does a river carry? Where does it all go? What happens along the way? How have human actions modified the way rivers work? Can rivers be restored after adverse affects from human actions? . One of the most intriguing aspects of the water on Earth is that it is rarely created or destroyed within the Earth System. It is simply transformed and transferred as part of Earth’s dynamic hydrologic cycle. Water molecules are in constant motion from one location and physical state to another.

Rivers are a dynamic combination of water, sediment, aquatic organisms, and riparian vegetation, all participating in a complex dance from the point of origin, or headwaters, toward the ocean or basin where the journey ends. The changes that occur along the way have been described in terms of a continuum by ecologists (Stanford & Ward 1993, Montgomery 1999), through quantifiable variables such as slope and width by geomorphologists (Schumm 1984), and through concepts of landscape evolution by tectonic geomorphologists (Burbank & Anderson 2001).

The shape of rivers and streams changes through time as...Continue Learning>>

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