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With reference to examples where appropriate, what is a sediment budget and how does this have both positive and adverse effects within drainage basins?

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Introduction

With reference to examples where appropriate, what is a sediment budget and how does this have both positive and adverse effects within drainage basins? What is a Sediment Budget? Although it is a difficult task to perform, if the storage time and amount of sediment is calculated, it is possible to work out a balance between erosion and deposition of the sediment in a catchment specific area. This is called the sediment budget. These are used by scientists, which can present the situation of the catchment area, and whether any human activity needs to take place there, for example, removing deposited sediment to reduce the risks of the river over-flowing, resulting in possible flooding of the area. Another situation could be where too much erosion is taking place in a specific area, and the area around the river needs to be protected by some sort of defence. ...read more.

Middle

The Yellow River (known as the Hwang He in China) is one of the world's greatest rivers, draining a total area of over 750,000km squared, where 84 million people live and 13 million hectors of farming land. The river bed is made up of easily eroded material, which causes great problems when the seasonal flow erodes the land, and hence increasing the chance of flooding, which is a danger to the people who live in the lower parts of the catchment. Rather than solid rock, the river flows over yellow loess deposits in its middle stages of its course, where the loess can be up to 300m thick in some areas. The yellow loess is easily eroded, and therefore the rate of erosion and transport by the river is increased extremely, especially during the seasonal flow of the river. Loess is also picked up by the river further down towards the south, such as near Yulin, where 25000 tonnes of loess are eroded per km squared. ...read more.

Conclusion

The formation of such deltas is vital for a country like China where the population density is so high, and also eases over-crowdness problems in urban areas. The disadvantages are that, firstly, the river brings the risk of flooding to the area as it can easily break into its banks. The hydro-electric power plants built along the river could be in danger of becoming damaged by sediments carried by the river, which will give problems to the areas powered by that plant. Also the high rates of erosion means that homes are at risk if situated near the river, as the land can become eroded away. Relating this to the sediment budget, sediment deposited at specific catchment areas along the river's course could become blocked in a way due to the high amount of sediments transported by the river. This could harm farmers in particular, who rely on the river to provide fertile soil, as the flow of river could be affected. Also eutrophication could occur if the river picks up any chemicals on the way, such as from farm fertilisers. ...read more.

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