River Tees Essay Sample

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The River Tees is located in North East England. Its source can be found in the moorland area of Cumbria, in the Pennine Hills which receives an average annual rainfall of 1200mm. The source is about 750m high up into the Pennines. The river’s mouth can be found in Teesbay, where it enters the North Sea. The source soon turns into a gentle stream, where the land is mainly used for sheep farming. The drainage basin covers about 700 square miles. In the middle course of the Tees it meanders its way along the countryside, the river deepens and widens as the river progresses towards the mouth. By the time it eventually reaches the mouth, the main land use is industrial. The river Tees starts in the boggy moorlands in Cumbria. These bogs never dry out, and are subject to completely unpredictable weather, for example in March it snowed up on the moorlands and the source was completely covered by snow and ice. In the upper course of the river, there is not much discharge, but high velocity, and the main loads in the river are the suspended load, which is where particles are chemically dissolved in the water, suspended load, where the particles are suspended in the water, and the bedload, which is the rocks.

There are lots of reservoirs in the upper course of the river, this is so that water can be provided to industrial cities to the east, for example Cow Green reservoir, which is actually located on the river Tees itself. The upper course of a river is a very good place for a reservoir as the valleys are narrow and steep sided they make excellent locations. Rainfall levels are high, evaporation rates are low and few people are affected by the building of the reservoir, this makes it the perfect place for a reservoir! Only five kilometres away from the source, there is nothing sharp left in the bedload. This is due to the high velocity of the water, causing attrition. The bedload also causes abrasion to occur, and the downward erosion forms a v-shaped valley. High Force waterfall is also in the upper course of the river Tees. High Force is 21.5 m tall and 20 cl of water pass through the waterfall every second. High Force was formed when the river eroded the limestone which is underneath harder rock (whinstone) which is harder to erode than limestone.

The limestone was eroded and eventually undercut the whinstone which eventually collapsed, creating a gorge. The process repeats itself and the waterfall gradually retreats. Because of this, no houses can be built near the gorge as the ground is unstable. The whinsill may also be too hard to lay foundations on in the first place, although there are also advantages of having a waterfall nearby to housing estates. One of these is that it would attract local tourism, which would mean more jobs for the local community, and another is hydroelectricity, so another land use near waterfalls are hydroelectricity power stations. Another feature of the upper course is interlocking spurs. These are hills that have got in the way of the river, but the river does not have enough power to cut through the hills, so it weaves around them. The land use on interlocking spurs would be mainly livestock farming (sheep or cows). Another sort of land use in the upper course of the river is coniferous plantations, as the conditions enable the plants to grow and earn the owners lots of money!

As you progress towards the middle course abrasion causes the river to become deeper and the channel becomes wider also as you get to the middle course the gradient gets less steep. Lateral erosion is more important in the middle course of the river, and meanders are a dominant feature. The valley has a broad flat floor, called a floodplain, extending for 10 kilometres in every direction, bordered by gentle slopes. The dominant land use is for arable farming; in fact farmland now occupies 95% of the land. The farming is more likely to be arable farming and milk production as it is easier to use the machines on the land. There are more settlements and transport links as the land is easier to build on. Meanders are the bends in the river. The meanders are caused by hydrocoidal flow (the water travels around the meander like a corkscrew). As the river meanders across the floodplain, speed increases on the outside of bends, the fastest current is called the thalweg. The thalweg undercuts the banks, forming a river cliff. A slip off slope forms on the inside of a meander bend as a result of deposition in the slower flowing water.

The neck of the meander (the gap in between the curve, almost like a U on its side) is very thin. When the river floods the water breaks through the neck of the meander. Deposition seals the ends of the meander, forming an oxbow lake. Over time the oxbow lake becomes colonized by vegetation. A very prominent oxbow lake on the Tees actually encloses a whole town! This town is called Yarn. Yarn is a good example of the settlements and transportation links that occur in the middle course. It used to be one of the most prominent ports in the country until a bridge was built, saving the hassle of having to take boats round the many meanders that stood between the sea and Yarn. Eventually they decided that they were going to change the course of the river themselves and not wait for the river to straighten naturally, so they dug a new channel, which chopped of two whole meanders, just to save money and time! They created artificial oxbow lakes in the process. The main land use around Yarn is industrial.

In the lower course, the river is at its widest and deepest which is the most efficient for transporting the water. The river flows very fast because it is lined with mud and silt and the bedload has either been eroded, transported or deposited somewhere along the course of the river. The reason it flows so fat is because it has very little friction. The remaining load is carried by suspension and solution. The main features are meanders, oxbow lakes and deltas. There is a wide, flat floodplain either side of the river; this is made up form alluvium (clay, silt, sand and gravel). A line of river cliffs are found at the edge of the floodplain, these are called bluffs. Levees are caused by floods, when there is low flow, deposition takes place on the riverbed. This raises the height of the river. When the river floods, the water leaves the channel, as it does this it loses momentum and the heavier material is deposited next to the river banks. Lighter material is carried further before it is deposited. After there have been lots of floods, the river banks build up higher and higher.

This is potentially very dangerous, as when there is a flood this means that the river banks are also higher than the floodplain, so the water cannot drain back into the river and sometimes has to form another one instead. The land use now consists of big settlements as supplies are easy to access and many items can be traded as boats carrying good are constantly coming in and out of ports and harbours in the lower course. Large factories and industrial areas also dominate the land use in the form of steel works, chemical plants, power stations, oil terminals and ship building yards. In particular Teeside has become a major port for many of the raw materials needed by these industries. Transport has been developed on the cheap land, which is easy to build on. The changes that the Tees undergoes in the land use are very drastic and range from sheep farming to industrial uses to settlements and I think that the phrase used in the video that we watched in class “Maximum variety, minimum distance” sums up quite nicely the differences in the land use on the Tees.

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