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Freshwater - Issues & Conflicts

Resources, activities, links & videos for the IB Geography; Freshwater unit. Revision pages in the store now.

Read this article for an introduction to the unit Groundwater. Published by

Hydrological cycle

1) Water balance = relationship between inputs and outputs of a drainage basin.

Precipitation = Q (runoff/discharge) + E (evapotranspiration) +/- changes in storage.

2) Stores and transfers of water in the hydrological cycle.

3) Recap water cycle (simple animation),

4) Problem of less water being stored as ice in the water cycle


Maximum Sustainable Yield: The maximum level of extraction that can be maintained indefinitely for a given area.

water mining - sustainable? sea level?

Global business & water shortages

Middle East running dry?

Key terms: evaporation, transpiration, evapotranspiration, condensation, precipitation,interception, infiltration, percolation, surface runoff, throughflow, baseflow, groundwater.

Drainage Basins


Drainage Basin: The area drained by a river and its tributaries.

Drainage Divide: Also known as a watershed, it is the line defining the boundary of a river or stream drainage basin separating it from adjacent basin(s).

5) Features of drainage basins: source, tributary, confluence, channel, floodplain, mouth, delta, distributaries.

6) River profile & characteristics: upper, middle & lower valley. Bradshaw model. Waterfalls.

7) River discharge: define, measurement (cumecs).

IB Geography-river picture
IB Geography waterfall picture


Storm/flood Hydrographs

8) What is a hydrograph? Key characteristics (discharge, rising limb, recessional/falling limb, peak flow, baseflow, runoff, lag time).

9) Factors affecting the hydrograph: basin shape/size, drainage density, human influence, slope gradient, climate, soil type, vegetation,

10) Purpose & use of hydrographs in flood prediction.



1) Physical & human causes of flooding.

CASE STUDY: Bangladesh flooding

See slide show below.

Include - Geograpphical location, physical & human causes, effects & preventative efforts.

Case study notes (password required)

video clip - Bangladesh flooding

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  • IB Geography pakistan
  • Pakistan flood causes
  • Pakistan flood effects
IB Geography freshwater pakistan flood
IB Geography freshwater pakistan flood causes
IB Geography freshwater pakistan flood effects
  • IB Geography freshwater
  • IB Geography freshwater
  • IB Geography Freshwater transportation
  • IB Geography freshwater deposition
IB Freshwater
IB freshwater erosion
IB Geography freshwater transportation
IB Geography freshwater deposition


Dams & Resovoirs

Case Study: Aswan Dam - Egypt

Costs/benefits of the dam

Q19 p.100 (Waugh)

Case study notes (password required)

IB Geography Aswan Dam

Damming the Mekong, Laos building new megadam (BBC)

The battle for the Mekong (BBC)

Floodplain Management

1) Factors affecting erosion: velocity, gradient, human activities.

2) Levees, meanders & oxbow lakes.

3) Notes about deposition: deposition features (deltas, braided channels, levees), reason for increased deposition & benefits brought by deposition..

4) Human modifications of floodplain & effect on flooding

  • urbanisation & impermeable surfaces - reduced infiltration, faster & increased runoff.
  • extraction of water - irrigation, wells
  • River channel adjustments - building development, bridges,
  • Chinas River Diversion - video

5) Management Strategies

Storm channels through cities

Case Study: London, UK

short guides looking at some of the causes & solutions to flooding in London

Flood barriers such as the Thames Barrier, London

Upstream measures:

Yangtze River: China.

3 Gorges Dam upstream to hold back floodwater & release it slowly.

Jingjiang flood diversion scheme - area allowed to flood to protect large urban areas downstream.


Mississippi flood gates opened (Telegraph 2011)

IB Geography river Tyne
IB Geography HEP dam, Costa Rica

Practise Exam Q

You may use your books, research etc to answer this - make it thorough & treat it as a learning execise rather than a test.

Question Paper

Resource Paper

Groundwater Management

Unsustainable use of groundwater: India

New reserves of groundwater discovered: Namibia


Wetlands & Management

Wetlands: Areas that are regularly saturated by surface water or groundwater, including freshwater marshes, swamps and bogs.

What are wetlands & why are they important.

Irrigation & Agriculture

1) Irrigation - p.490 (Waugh) define & why used? What are boom & drip irrigation (p.491).

2) Salinisation - p.496 (Waugh) why can irrigation cause salinisation & how can it be managed?

Case Study: Kissimmee River Restoration

Where is the Kissimmee river.

How, why & when was it altered?

Why and how is it being restored? (and at what cost?)



3) Chemicals & eutrophication - p.494 (Waugh) side effects of chemicals on water supplies. What is eutrophication & why is it a problem

IB geography eutrophication

Fertilisers: Enriching the worlds soil

  1. Read & make notes about the the impact on a global scale that fertilisers are having.
  2. Why have they become so essential for food supplies, but also for economies that rely on agriclture?
  3. What is micro-dosing and how can it help overcome?

nitrate pollution & effect in UK

Conflict over water - National or local scale

1) P.490 Waugh.

Case study (password required)

IB Geography rice farming & terracing

The - The Andes

Mini-series looking at water shortages in Peru - causes, effects and some ideas about what can be done.

The Andes: Retreat of the glacier

The Andes: The farmers' struggle

The Andes: Water wars

Peru's water protests halt Machu Picc hu tourism Chiles water conflicts between mining & agriculture in the Atacama Desert.


Storm hydrograph past paper Q

Past Exam Q essay:

“The lower courses of rivers are more important to people than the upper courses.”
Discuss this statement with reference to located examples. [20 marks]

Guideline to help answer this

Lake Mead & the Hoover Dam

Water wars in the USA: BBC video clip about state conflicts over the use of the Rio Grandes water.

Age of Limits: 21st Century Water Management from Alexandra Cousteau on Vimeo.

Dams around the world & some of the concerns & benefits.

Tanning Factories & the River Ganges


Check your knowledge


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