Freshwater Definitions

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Water deposited on the ground as a liquid or a solid, for example rain, hail, snow, or even fog.
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Water soaked into the soil from the surface.
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Water moving downhill through the soil layers. It will generally move slowly, but flow may concentrate along the line of roots or soil weaknesses and form natural pipes; the flow in these will be much faster.
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Channel flow
Water moving downhill within rivers.
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Groundwater flow
Water moving within rocks below the ground.
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Overland or surface flow
Water moving across the surface of the ground.
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The combined processes of evaporation and transpiration. In practice it is very difficult to calculate the two amounts separately, so they are often grouped together.
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The loss of water through the tiny holes called stomata in the leaf surface.
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When precipitation is trapped by plants so it may not immediately pass to the ground.
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Water moving from the surface layers of soil and rock.
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Water changing from its liquid form to a gas (water vapour) and returning to the atmosphere.
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The volume of water passing a certain point per unit of time. It is usually expressed in cubic metres per second (cumecs).
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As the velocity of a river begins to fall it has less energy. Material will be deposited in low energy zones, relative to the size of the particle and velocity of the river. The largest particles will be deposited first.
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Water held under the surface of the earth.
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Phreatic zone
The area of ground that is permanently saturated.
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Aeration zone
 The area of land that is only partially saturated or completely unsaturated.
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Water table
The boundary between saturated and unsaturated ground. The water table can move up or down.
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When all pore space is full and rocks or soil can hold no more water.
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Ground that can still hold more water i.e. there is still room in the pore spaces.
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Rocks that can hold water.
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Rock that will not hold water or allow its movement. i.e. they are non-porous and impermeable
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A layer of rock that limits the movement of groundwater. It may be non-porous and has low hydraulic conductivity e.g. it is a clay that water finds it hard to pass through.
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The removal or extraction (mining) of groundwater.
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Artesian Basin
An artesian basin is a confined aquifer containing groundwater under positive pressure as it is surrounded by aquitards. This causes the water level in the well to rise to a point where hydrostatic equilibrium has been reached.
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Capillary action
The upwards movement of water.
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Water balance
The balance between the amount of precipitation an area receives and the amount of water that it loses through evapotranspiration.
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Groundwater Deficit
When evapotranspiration has exceeded precipitation for a long period. During these arid periods deep groundwater will have to be used or artificial stores e.g. reservoir.
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Groundwater Recharge
When precipitation exceeds evapotranspiration and groundwater depleted in drier months can be refilled.
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Groundwater Usage
When evapotranspiration is greater than precipitation. During this period groundwater will be used and the level of the water table will start to go down.
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Groundwater Excess
When precipitation exceeds evaporation and groundwater is recharged. When there is excess water the ground will become saturated and the water table will move up.
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An area of land whose soil is saturated with moisture long enough to support plants adapted to living in saturated ground.
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Brackish Water
Water with a higher salinity content than freshwater, but not as high as saltwater.
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Bogs are areas of wetland where acidic peat has accumulated. The water near the grounds surface is acidic and water flowing out of bogs has a characteristic brown colour.
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Low land that is covered wholly or partially with water which usually has peaty, alkaline soil.
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A swamp generally has a large number of dry-land areas, covered by aquatic vegetation which tolerates periodical inundation. They also tend to contain woody plants.
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Floodplains are valley floors that get covered in water when a river exceeds bankfull discharge. Marshes occur when the floodplain is saturated for a long time.
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Surface stores that are fed by rivers.
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the artificial cultivation (growing or rearing) of plants or animals. Agriculture that grows crops is known as arable agriculture, agriculture that involves rearing animals is known as pastoral agriculture.
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Agricultural land
Land that is suitable for farming.
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The artificial farming of aquatic plants and animals. Aquaculture may take place in freshwater or seawater.
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Primary sector
The primary sector extracts or harvests resources from the surface of the earth.
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Artificially watering the land. There are three main types of irrigation; gravity flow, sprinklers and drip systems.
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Land degradation
Land that is overused or misused can become degraded, where the quality of land has been reduced and it is less productive.
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The process of land turning into desert. This can happen because of natural factors like rising temperatures and drought, or human factors like overgrazing and deforestation.
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This is the processing of artificially adding nitrates and phosphates (through fertilsers and sewage) to wetland areas.
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Fertilisers are substances that artificially supply the soil with nutrients. Fertilisers can increase the productivity of agricultural land, but can also cause eutrophication of nearby wetlands.
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This is the increase in the salt content of water. Salinization can happen because of evaporation or unsustainable water extraction. If the ground becomes too salinated it becomes less fertile.
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Mr A Gibson


Almost 50 definitions and river related things to test your knowledge. Great for any exam board.

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