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The River Rhine

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By Jasen Chawda 10AM The River Rhine rises in the Swiss Alps about 3,353 metres above sea level and flows north, passing through or bordering Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France, and the Netherlands and then its mouth is located at the North Sea. The Rhine is usually at its maximum volume during the seasons of spring and summer; this is due to the fact that there is the melted water of snow and glaciers. In this enquiry I am looking at the aspect of river flooding in the Rhine, particularly in 1995. A river flood is when a river spills its banks onto areas of land surrounding it that are not usually covered by water. The main causes for river flooding are: * Heavy rainfall - causes soil to become saturated and not allow infiltration. * Rapidly melting snow * Dam bursts * Soil saturation - this may cause a river to flood as the water would not be able to infiltrate the soil and so will encourage overland flow. * Deforestation - this may cause flooding as there are no trees to intercept the rain and so the soil will become saturated. ...read more.


* There has been a change from pastoral to arable land in rural areas and in effect hedgerows and meadows have been removed and replaced with ploughed fields. This reduces the capacity for infiltration and interception, due to removal of vegetation, so a larger percentage of rain falling on the catchment goes into the river. * The upper Rhine is used for generating hydroelectric power; 10 power stations are bypassed by a new channel parallel to the old river, designed to remove water which is surplus to the generators' requirements. * A flood surge now occurs over just 2 days, whereas before it was spread over 5, so the same volume of water is now moving further in a shorter time, causing a dramatic rise in the river's level. There were many results to come of the flooding in 1995, both short and long term. Much of the land consists of polders which are low-lying areas that are enclosed by protective embankments called dykes, but in 1995 many of these polders were flooded. As many of the dykes are made of sand and clay they became saturated because of the continuous high river levels, this made them more likely to collapse so that emergency work on reinforcing them had to be carried out. ...read more.


* Limit residential development in areas which are likely to flood. * Encourage individual households to reduce flood risks in their own homes; these include things such as tiled floors downstairs and removable items of furniture. * �5 billion has been spent on a system of protective dykes after 1,800 people were drowned in 1953 due to flooding. * After the 1995 floods a further �1 billion was being planned to be spent on flood protection. * Remove silt from the forelands, the silt could be used to build bricks or dykes, which would otherwise slowly lose their capacity to hold floodwater as one flood after another deposits silt. * Encourage land uses in the Rhine basin which increase absorption of rainwater such as contour ploughing and increasing the area of gardens and parks in urban areas. * Flood retention basins could be built, these are areas of land surrounded by dykes in which flood water is directed into to reduce the river's water level. When the flood is gone the water from the basin is slowly transferred back into the channel. * Allow the river to flow back through marshland areas which had been previously sealed off for navigation purposes ...read more.

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