By Laurie Burnham
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Extra info for Rivers (Extreme Earth)
Struck by its resemblance to the letter ∆, he inserted the descriptive term in his travel writings. The name caught on and has been widely appropriated to describe all fanlike deposits at the mouths of rivers. (See figure 21 in chapter 4, p. ) Today the Nile Delta occupies an 8,500-square-mile (13,679-km²) triangle between Cairo and the Mediterranean coast. Although the region accounts for only 3 percent of Egypt’s land, it is home to 96 percent of that nation’s population. Some 20 million people live in an area about the size of Maryland.
Eventually, the lake drained eastward, working its way over the course of many millennia through ancient rock known as the Brazilian and Guiana Shields. Eventually, the draining water carved a channel to the Atlantic, giving birth to what is today the Amazon River. The Amazon G 27 For all its eventual power and size, today’s Amazon has surprisingly modest beginnings. The river forms high in the Peruvian Andes in the Ucayali valley, a mere 100 miles (161 km) from the Pacific Ocean, at an elevation of 18,673 feet.
Every time a tributary joins the main river, so does the tributary’s watershed. As a river flows downward, therefore, the size of its watershed tends to grow in abrupt jumps. This cumulative affect accounts for the Amazon’s enormous watershed, technically called a drainage basin. The Amazon basin stays lush and damp year-round, fed by abundant rain. 4 m), though more rain falls from February to May (the rainy season) than from June to October (the dry season). Approximately 60 percent of the rain that falls enters the local at- The Amazon G 31 mosphere through transpiration (vapor loss from plants) and through direct evaporation.
Rivers (Extreme Earth) by Laurie Burnham