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Introducing Large Rivers. Edition No. 1

  • ID: 5225509
  • Book
  • February 2020
  • 304 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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An accessible introduction to large rivers, including coverage of the geomorphology, hydrology, ecology, and environments of large river systems

This indispensible book takes a structured and global approach to the subject of large rivers, covering geomorphology, hydrology, ecology, and anthropogenic environment. It offers a thorough foundation for readers who are new to the field and presents enlightening discussions about issues of management at the worldwide scale. The book also examines possible future adaptations that may come about due to climate change. The book has benefitted from contributions by Professor W.J. Junk on the ecology of floodplains and Professor Olav Slaymaker on the large arctic rivers.

Introducing Large Rivers is presented in three parts. Part 1 provides an introduction to the world’s large rivers and their basins. It covers source, transfer, and storage of their water and sediment; Pleistocene inheritance; the ecology of channels and floodplains; deltas; and more. Several large rivers are discussed in the next part. These include the Amazon Mississippi, Nile, Ganga-Brahmaputra System, Mekong, and Yangtze. The last part examines changes in large rivers and our management of river systems. It studies anthropogenic alterations such as land use and deforestation in large river basins; structural control systems like dams and reservoirs on channels; and ecological changes. It finishes with chapters on the management of large rivers, covering both technical and political aspects, and the future of the world’s big river systems. 

Introducing Large Rivers is ideal as an introductory textbook on large rivers for future earth and environmental scientists and river managers. It will also benefit advanced undergraduate and graduate students studying geography, geology, ecology, and river management.

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Preface xiii

1 Introduction 1

1.1 Large Rivers 1

1.2 A Book on Large Rivers 3

References 6

2 Geological Framework of Large Rivers 7

2.1 Introduction 7

2.2 The Geological Framework: Elevated Land and a Large Catchment 8

2.3 Smaller Tectonic Movements 9

2.4 The Subsurface Alluvial Fill of Large Rivers 10

2.5 Geological History of Large Rivers 12

2.6 Conclusion 14

Questions 14

References 14

3 Water and Sediment in Large Rivers 17

3.1 Introduction 17

3.2 Discharge of large Rivers 17

3.3 Global Pattern of Precipitation 18

3.4 Large River Discharge: Annual Pattern and Long-Term Variability 21

3.5 Sediment in Large Rivers 26

3.6 Conclusion 32

Questions 32

References 33

4 Morphology of Large Rivers 35

4.1 Introduction 35

4.2 Large Rivers from Source to Sink 35

4.3 The Amazon River 38

4.3.1 The Setting 39

4.3.2 Hydrology 39

4.3.3 Sediment Load 39

4.3.4 Morphology 42

4.4 The Ganga River 44

4.4.1 The Setting 44

4.4.2 Hydrology 46

4.4.3 Sediment Load 46

4.4.4 Morphology 47

4.5 Morphology of Large Rivers: Commonality and Variations 48

4.6 Conclusion 52

Questions 52

References 52

5 Large Rivers and their Floodplains: Structures, Functions, Evolutionary Traits and Management with Special Reference to the Brazilian Rivers 55
Wolfgang J. Junk, Florian Wittmann, Jochen Schöngart, Maria Teresa F. Piedade and Catia Nunes da Cunha

5.1 Introduction 55

5.2 Origin and Age of Rivers and Floodplains 57

5.3 Scientific Concepts and their Implications for Rivers and Floodplains 59

5.4 Water Chemistry and Hydrology of Major Brazilian Rivers and their Floodplains 60

5.5 Ecological Characterisation of Floodplains and their Macrohabitats 62

5.6 Ecological Responses of Organisms to Flood-Pulsing Conditions 64

5.6.1 Trees 65

5.6.2 Herbaceous Plants 66

5.6.3 Invertebrates 66

5.6.4 Fish 67

5.6.5 Other Vertebrates 68

5.7 Biodiversity 68

5.7.1 Higher Vegetation 69

5.7.2 Animal Biodiversity 71

5.8 The Role of Rivers and their Floodplains for Speciation and Species Distribution of Trees 71

5.9 Biogeochemical Cycles in Floodplains 73

5.9.1 Biomass and Net Primary Production 73

5.9.1.1 Algae 73

5.9.1.2 Herbaceous Plants 74

5.9.1.3 Trees of the Flooded Forest 75

5.9.2 Decomposition 76

5.9.3 The Nitrogen Cycle 77

5.9.4 Nutrient Transfer Between the Terrestrial and Aquatic Phases 78

5.9.5 Food Webs 79

5.10 Management of Amazonian River Floodplains 80

5.10.1 Amazonian River Floodplains 80

5.10.2 Savanna Floodplains 82

5.11 Policies in Brazilian Wetlands 82

5.12 Discussion and Conclusion 84

Acknowledgements 89

References 89

6 Large River Deltas 103

6.1 Introduction 103

6.2 Large River Deltas: The Distribution 104

6.3 Formation of Deltas 104

6.4 Delta Morphology and Sediment 110

6.5 The Ganga-Brahmaputra Delta: An Example of a Major Deltaic Accumulation 112

6.5.1 The Background 112

6.5.2 Morphology of the Delta 113

6.5.3 Late Glacial and Holocene Evolution of the Delta 114

6.6 Conclusion 115

Questions 115

References 116

7 Geological History of Large River Systems 119

7.1 The Age of Large Rivers 119

7.2 Rivers in the Quaternary 121

7.2.1 The Time Period 121

7.2.2 The Nature of Geomorphic Changes 123

7.2.3 The Pleistocene and Large Rivers 124

7.2.3.1 The Glacial Stage 124

7.2.3.2 The Transition 125

7.2.3.3 The Interglacial Stage 127

7.3 Changes During the Holocene 127

7.4 Evolution and Development of the Mississippi River 128

7.5 The Ganga-Brahmaputra System 133

7.6 Evolution of the Current Amazon 137

7.7 Evolutionary Adjustment of Large Rivers 141

Questions 142

References 142

8 Anthropogenic Alterations of Large Rivers and Drainage Basins 147

8.1 Introduction 147

8.2 Early History of Anthropogenic Alterations 148

8.3 The Mississippi River: Modifications before Big Dams 149

8.4 The Arrival of Large Dams 151

8.5 Evaluating the Impact of Anthropogenic Changes 156

8.5.1 Land Use and Land Cover Changes 157

8.5.2 Channel Impoundments 159

8.6 Effect of Impoundments on Alluvial Rivers 161

8.7 Effect of Impoundments on Rivers in Rock 163

8.8 Large-scale Transfer of River Water 166

8.9 Conclusion 167

Questions 168

References 169

9 Management of Large Rivers 173

9.1 Introduction 173

9.2 Biophysical Management 177

9.3 Social and Political Management 178

9.3.1 Values and Objectives in River Management 179

9.3.2 International Basin Arrangements 180

9.4 The Importance of the Channel, Floodplain, and Drainage Basin 180

9.5 Integrated Water Resources Management 182

9.6 Techniques for Managing Large River Basins 183

9.7 Administering the Nile 184

9.8 Conclusion 188

Questions 189

References 190

10 The Mekong: A Case Study on Morphology and Management 193

10.1 Introduction 193

10.2 Physical Characteristics of the Mekong Basin 194

10.2.1 Geology and Landforms 194

10.2.2 Hydrology 196

10.2.3 Land Use 197

10.3 The Mekong: Source to Sea 199

10.3.1 The Upper Mekong in China 199

10.3.2 The Lower Mekong South of China 199

10.4 Erosion, Sediment Storage and Sediment Transfer in the Mekong 202

10.5 Management of the Mekong and its Basin 204

10.5.1 Impoundments on the Mekong 204

10.5.2 Anthropogenic Modification of Erosion and Sedimentation on Slopes 206

10.5.3 Degradation of the Aquatic Life 207

10.6 Conclusion 208

Questions 208

References 209

11 Large Arctic Rivers 211
Olav Slaymaker

11.1 Introduction 211

11.1.1 The Five Largest Arctic River Basins 213

11.1.2 Climate Change in the Five Large Arctic Basins 213

11.1.3 River Basin Zones 214

11.2 Physiography and Quaternary Legacy 216

11.2.1 Physiographic Regions 216

11.2.1.1 Active Mountain Belts and Major Mountain Belts with Accreted Terranes (Zone 1) 216

11.2.1.2 Interior Plains, Lowlands, and Plateaux (Zone 2) 217

11.2.1.3 Arctic Lowlands (Zone 3) 218

11.2.2 Ice Sheets and Their Influence on Drainage Rearrangement 218

11.2.3 Intense Mass Movement on Glacially Over-steepened Slopes 218

11.3 Hydroclimate and Biomes 220

11.3.1 Climate Regions 220

11.3.2 Biomes 220

11.3.3 Wetlands 224

11.4 Permafrost 224

11.4.1 Permafrost Distribution 224

11.4.2 Permafrost and Surficial Materials 226

11.4.3 Contemporary Warming 226

11.5 Anthropogenic Effects 228

11.5.1 Development and Population 228

11.5.2 Agriculture and Extractive Industry 228

11.5.3 Urbanisation: The Case of Siberia 228

11.6 Discharge of Large Arctic Rivers 229

11.6.1 Problems in Discharge Measurement 229

11.6.2 Water Fluxes 229

11.6.3 Water Budget 231

11.6.4 Nival River Regime 232

11.6.5 Lakes and Glaciers 234

11.6.6 River Ice: Freeze and Break Up 236

11.6.7 Scale Effects 237

11.6.8 Effects of River Regulation 238

11.6.9 Historical Changes 238

11.7 Sediment Fluxes 239

11.7.1 Complications in Determining Sediment Fluxes Both Within Arctic Basins and to the Arctic Ocean 239

11.7.2 Flux of Suspended Sediment and Dissolved Solids 240

11.7.3 Historical Changes in Water and Sediment Discharge in the Siberian Rivers 240

11.7.4 Suspended Sediment Sources and Sinks in the Mackenzie Basin 242

11.7.4.1 Sediment Yield in the Mackenzie Basin 242

11.7.4.2 West Bank Tributary Sources 243

11.7.4.3 Bed and Bank Sources 245

11.8 Nutrients and Contaminants 249

11.8.1 Supply of Nutrients 249

11.8.2 Transport of Contaminants 250

11.9 Mackenzie, Yukon and Lena Deltas 253

11.9.1 Mackenzie Delta 253

11.9.2 Lena Delta 253

11.9.3 Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta 256

11.10 Significance of Large Arctic Rivers 256

Acknowledgment 258

Questions 259

References 259

12 Climate Change and Large Rivers 265

12.1 Introduction 265

12.2 Global Warming: Basic Concept 266

12.3 A Summary of Future Changes in Climate 270

12.4 Impact of Climate Change on Large Rivers 271

12.5 Climate Change and a Typical Large River of the Future 273

12.6 Conclusion 277

Questions 277

References 278

Index 281

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Avijit Gupta University of Leeds.
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