Thursday, 24 May 2012

Case study of the management of a Tropical Storm in an LIC

I did this research a long time ago so data may be different to what you've collected, and I've tried to include as much detail as possible so you don't have to do extra research. It's all here.  You can now develop your own response for those hideous 9 mark questions that tend to ask about Case Studies. Hope this helps and if you have any comments, spot any errors etc, just let me know. :) 

Case study of the management of a Tropical Storm in an LIC: Bangladesh Cyclone, 1991

Prediction and monitoring
Bangladesh ranks as the world’s foremost disaster-prone country. Yet people cannot afford to live elsewhere as poverty is a huge issue and so they cannot leave the danger zone. The government does nt have the money to fund adequate disaster plans either. The frequent natural disasters in Bangladesh have a heavy toll on them as their economy cannot grow. Thus their technology is not as advanced as they cannot afford to do more scientific research on it. Their satellites and remote sensing technology is outdated and have been in existence since 1972. Meaning that by 1991 it would have been ineffective and less accurate. The Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) are responsible for preparing weather forecasts, the data they received may have come late or were inaccurate thus they could not analyse it properly. This would affect when they warn citizens.  Also, because Bangladesh is an LIC, they cannot afford to send highly advanced, specially built planes up into the atmosphere through the cyclone to gather information on it, whereas the US can. If they do not know exactly how strong or how the cyclone is, they cannot be properly prepared for it.

Preparation for the cyclone hazard
The Storm Warning Centre (SWC) of the BMD provides forecasting and warnings. However, the warnings they sent out did not give people much time to react and prepare. Their megaphone warning system is ineffective, it involves people riding on bicycles between paddy fields and yelling out warning through their megaphones. This means the warnings do not reach everybody, and most people only had a few hours of warning and didn’t know where to go for shelter. Due to the lack of cyclone shelters (raised, reinforced concrete shelters) and safe places to go, people stayed at their poorly constructed house which are unable to withstand strong winds. (It was mostly flat land anyway, where would they go? The embankments were also ineffective against the storm surge.) Their houses were so weak that there was no point in boarding anything up. The lack of transportation also meant that people could not leave the danger zone and find a safe place. Some refused to evacuate thinking that the storm would not be as bad as forecasted. The citizens were uneducated in this respect, not knowing the effects of a cyclone and they were also unaware of the storm surge that would follow. This was what caused the most damage (90%), not the high speed winds. Without a proper evacuation plan, everything was chaotic so people were not prepared for the cyclone. Due to poor education and information available, citizens were unsure how to prepare themselves and react to the situation leading to more deaths. In the year 1991, these poor people had no hand phones, television or radios so they could not access information or keep updated. Few of them were in urban areas, in the rural areas there was no electricity to power these appliances anyway. The government did not prepare emergency supplies of food and water, this led to starvation and diseases.

Short-term response after the cyclone (e.g. disaster relief, emergency aid)
Training for disaster relief, emergency aid and local rescue workers was not thorough. The inexperienced workers were momentarily dazed by the disaster and were not prepared. Their slow reaction meant that many more people were injured and killed. Their equipment would not be as abundant and useful like in HICs such as USA, because that requires money. Due to a lack of transport, local rescue workers could not reach some stricken areas. Important things like band-aids and medical supplies ran out fast because they are expensive. With so many people needing help, there were simply not enough supplies to aid everybody. Simultaneously, the government failed to provide sufficient cyclone shelters for everybody affected. Thus the number of homeless people increased. Emergency electricity supplies and telephone links failed to work. Due to hundreds of acres of farmland and crops destroyed, there was insufficient food and a shortage of clean water—leading to further deaths from starvation and disease. With little help from richer countries, Bangladesh had to face huge costs they could not sustain, and people were left homeless and unemployed. American soldiers returning from war were redirected to Bangladesh and they save thousands of people. The government provided seeds for farmers to replant their crops.

Long-term response after the cyclone (e.g. improving prediction, making  adjustments to the previous preparation plan, redesigning buildings etc.)
Bangladesh looked to strengthen their cyclone warning system and make sure everybody is informed next time. Now they use television, radio, megaphones, house-to-house visits and other ways to inform people. Now, Bangladesh uses much more modern technology to predict the path of the cyclone. Recent statistical methods have been introduced for the forecasting of cyclone paths. Before they only used old subjective methods based on synoptic maps. Now SPARRSO (Bangladesh Space Research and Remote Sensing Organisation) has installed a model named TYAN to predict the track of a cyclone based on climatology of Bay of Bengal Cyclones for the last 100 years. The model has shown promising results for the forecast of cyclone movement, some 24 hours ahead of landfall—giving more time to announce the cyclone’s coming and allow people to evacuate and prepare. Many strongly built houses have been constructed high above sea level to serve as shelters for people in low-lying areas in the coastal region. Trees have been planted along the coastal area to help absorb some impact from the storm surge. A Flood Action Plan has been developed in case of emergencies. Now, each rescue worker team has basic warning equipment: handheld sirens, megaphones, signal lights, first aid kit and a transistor radio. School teachers, social workers and other people have raincoats, life jackets, torch lights and other equipment to help them in dangerous situations. But they do have other priorities as Bangladesh is still an LIC, so not that much has changed. However, the government is still more experienced and knowledgeable now.

Managing natural hazards

'Managing' natural hazards is really about learning to live with them and knowing what's best to do in times when the hazard is actively taking place. There are at least 6 major steps here:

  1. Risk assessment: determining the probability of a particular hazard happening and the scale of its possible damage
  2. Prediction: putting in place monitoring systems that might give warning about an imminent (forthcoming) hazard
  3. Preparation (adjustment): finding ways of reducing the possible death toll and the scale of damage of property. Educating people about the hazards of the areas in which they live and what to do in case of an emergency is important here
  4. Hazard event: the natural hazard that has been anticipated and planned for happens
  5. Recovery: first emergency aid then repairing the damage. 
  6. Appraisal: an examination of what happened after the event with many questions to be asked and answered. Were there emergency plans ready to put into action? How effective were the preparations that had been made before the event? What should be done to make them better in the future?
Case Study of the Management of a Tectonic Event in an HIC:

Tropical Storms--Measuring and recording weather conditions

Tropical storms are a moving hazard, so they must be tracked and forecasts made of their future progress. That is what meteorologists do. 

If they can measure how they are developing, they they can warn people in the predicted path of the storm. This should give people time to prepare such as moving to higher ground (avoid storm surge) or to an emergency shelter. Homes can be made ready by boarding up windows and moving furniture upstairs. 

The media which includes TV, radio and the Internet play an important role in keeping the general public updated about the storm and where it is expected to go. 

How do meteorologists track and predict the movement of tropical storms? The data they work on comes from a number of different sources.

Weather Stations
There is a global network of weather stations that track the movement of tropical storms. Some are manned, some are automatic, some monitor the weather all the time and others just at set hours during the day and night.

Once all this information about pressure, temperature, humidity, winds and so on is collected and put together, it can be used to predict what will happen to the storm. Will it deepen, with an increase in rainfall and wind speeds or will the storm begin to weaken and fizzle out?

Weather Satellites
These are important for viewing large weather systems on a worldwide scale. They show cloud formation, large weather events such as hurricanes, and other global weather systems. With satellites, forecasters can see weather systems such as tropical storms.

On each satellite, there are 2 types of sensor. One is a visible light sensor called the imager. It works like a camera in space and helps gather information on cloud movements and patterns. This sensory can only be used during daylight hours, since it works by capturing reflected light to create images.

The second sensory is the sounder. It is an infrared sensor that reads temperatures. The higher the temperature of the object, the more energy it emits. This sensory allows satellites to measure the amount of energy radiated by the Earth's surface, clouds, oceans, air etc. Infrared sensors can be used at night which is helpful for forecasters, considering that the imagers can only pick up data during daylight hours.

Doppler radar is another important meteorological tool. Radar works a little differently from satellite sensors. Instead of reading reflected light or energy, radar measures reflected sound waves. When sound waves are broadcast from a radar mast and come into contact with a moving object, such as a rain cloud, radar will give information about the direction and speed of the object's movement. By using radar and getting a 'picture' of precipitation (e.g water falling to the ground) on the radar screen, meteorologists are able to track a storm's progress over time. 

The impacts of natural disasters

The amount of damage and destruction caused by natural disasters depends on many factors, including:

  • the scale of the event in terms of its energy, the area affected and how long it lasted
  • the degree to which people are warned in advance of the event. This is one reason why earthquakes tend to be so devastating--they occur almost anywhere near a plate margin without warning.
  • the density of human settlement in the area affected. The more people and economic activities there are in a disaster area, the greater will be the potential damage. 
  • the degree to which people are prepared for a possible natural hazard. Are there emergency shelters? Have people been educated in what should be done in an emergency? Are houses, factories and businesses located in areas of low risk? Have buildings been constructed in such a way that they may be able to withstand the hazard?
  • the ability of a country to cope with the aftermath of a hazard, both immediately and in the longer term.
It is with respect to the last 2 points that a basic contrast is so often seen. The difference is between HICs and LICs in terms of their ability to prepare for hazards and their ability to cope with the damage caused. 

Case Study of Impacts of a Tropical Storm in a HIC:

Case Study of Impacts of a Tropical Storm in a LIC:

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Earthquake Preparation

These are just some examples of how people can prepare for an earthquake. This would reduce the effects greatly.

Preparing evacuation plans
Each workplace, restaurant, bar and school must have an earthquake evacuation procedure. This must be tested periodically. The procedure would ensure each person knew how to evacuate the building they were in and where to register after the earthquake was over.
Earthquake practice days
Once a year, all companies and school must practise their earthquake evacuation procedure. This takes a whole day for the people to practise the drill, sit through a debrief and alter the plan as necessary. If each person practises the evacuation procedure, the death toll is likely to be lower.
Organising emergency supplies
Stockpiles of canned food, water, medical supplies and fuel must be organised and stored. A handful of people will be trained to distribute these emergency supplies. It is likely that most shops will be closed for a period of time after the earthquake, so this may be the only source of food and water available.
Training emergency services
The police, fire service and ambulance crews spend one day a month receiving training about how to react in the aftermath of an earthquake. Regular training is the only way to ensure a swift and successful rescue takes place.
Earthquake warning system
A network of warning messages and information broadcasts would be set up. These will be broadcast on television and radio. Messages will also be sent via text message and e-mail. Television and radio signals may not be available if the earthquake causes masts to collapse.
Building regulations
New buildings must adhere to the regulations and all other buildings need to be made ‘earthquake-resistant’ within ten years. Those buildings without such alterations are likely increase the death toll.

Example of changes to buildings etc.:
  • Computer-controlled weights on roof to reduce movement.
  • Steel frames which can sway during earth movements.
  • Automatic window shutters to prevent falling glass.
  • Open areas where people can assemble if evacuated.
  • Foundations sunk into bedrock avoiding clay.
  • ‘Birdcage’ interlocking steel frame.
  • Outer panels flexibly attached to steel structure.
  • Fire-resistant building materials.
  • Roads to provide quick access for emergency services.
  • Rubber shock-absorbers in foundation pillars to absorb earth tremors. 
Earthquake-resistant Building Design Examples: 
^This would be a more detailed post with real-life examples to put it in context.

This links to reducing impacts of Earthquakes:

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Preventing Soil Erosion

Just thought I'd elaborate on what can be done to prevent or reduce soil erosion, taken from another textbook and some are my classwork. :) 

The world's population continues to increase, so farmers are going to have to produce more food in order to feed the extra numbers. This can only be done if the soil is protected and carefully managed. [Note: Soil is a renewable resource, but it needs careful management. In the UK, it takes about 400 years just for 1cm of soil to form, and it can take 12,000 years for soil to become deep enough for farming!]

Evidence suggests that in the year 2000, 20% of land that was arable (used/suitable for growing crops) in 1985 had been lost through erosion, desertification and conversion to non-agricultural uses. 

1. Terracing in Indonesia and the Philippines: Large areas of these two countries are covered in volcanic mountains which have steep slopes and fertile soil. Flat terraces (like giant steps) were first built on many of the hillsides, the terraces are flat and are fronted by a mud/stone wall known as a 'bund'. The bund traps rainwater and soil, allowing the rainwater time to infiltrate into the ground so surface run-off and the removal of topsoil is prevented.

2. Contour ploughing: This is ploughing around hillsides rather than up and down the slope. By ploughing parallel to the contours, the furrows trap rainwater and prevent the water from washing soil downhill. 

3. Strip cropping: This is when 2 or more crops are planted in the same field. One crop may grow in the shelter of a taller crop. It is harvested at a different time of the year and uses different nutrients from the soil. Often the crops are rotated from year to year. 

4. Animal welfare in Kenya (Controlled size of herds!): Large herds of cattle, goats, sheep and camels have long been considered a source of wealth and prestige in several African countries. Unfortunately, quantity, rather than quality, has tended to result in overgrazing. [Overgrazing: when pasture or grazing is unable to support the number of animals relying on it for food. The result is that vegetation cover declines and soil erosion sets in.]
The problem of overgrazing has increased partly because rainfall has become even less reliable and partly because of the rapidly growing population. 'Practical Action', a British organisation, is working with local people in several parts of Kenya. They are helping to train one person from each village to become a 'wasaidizi' or animal care worker. By recognising and being able to treat basic animal illnesses, the wasaidizi is improving the quality of local herds. As the quality improves there should be less need for so many animals so that, hopefully, overgrazing will be reduced. 

5. Stone lines ('magic stones') in Burkina Faso: This project, begun by Oxfam in 1979, uses appropriate technology, local knowledge and local raw materials. It involves all villagers collecting some of the many stones lying around their village. The stones are laid across the land to stop surface run-off following the all too rare heavy rainstorms. Water and soil are trapped. The water now has time to infiltrate instead of being lost immediately through surface run-off. The soil soon becomes deep enough for the planting of crops. Erosion is reduced and crop yields have increased by as much as 50%. The only equipment needed is a simple level, developed by Oxfam, to help keep the lines parallel to the contours. 

6. Shelter belts of trees block wind: trees block wind from blowing away loose, dry grains of soil so topsoil is not lost. 

7. Afforestation: Increasing vegetation cover would help slow run off and increase infiltration. Trees intercept rainfall so force of water doesn't hit the soil and wash it away, roots also bind soil particles together. 

8. Small hedged fields: hedges reduce surface run-off and allow time for infiltration so water is retained where it falls. 

9. Gully filled with soil and planted with grasses: prevent wearing of soil and reduce surface run-off. (gullies are like storm drains, they would carry away the rain and soil quickly)

10. Crop rotation and NO monoculture: Practice of growing a series of dissimilar types of crops in the same area in sequential seasons. So that crops don't exhaust nutrients in soil as different crops require different nutrients.

11. Fields left under grass in winter: after winter when snow melts it will infiltrate into soil and stimulate growth of the grass--allowing animals a place to graze, and may prevent ground from freezing hard completely. 

12. Fallow land: crop land that is not seeded for a season, serves to accumulate moisture in dry regions or to check weeds/plant diseases. 'Rests' the land, so soil nutrients can be replenished.

13. Natural fertiliser (manure) used wherever possible: manure puts vital nutrients back into the soil, maintaining its health. And animal manure could be cheaper than chemicals, especially if the farm has some livestock. 

Soil erosion (Types and Causes)

Go to page 180 of Edexcel Geography book, I've adapted the page here, and have added some explanations where I thought they were needed. :)

Soil erosion is the washing away or blowing away of top soil. Basically the wearing away and loss of exposed top soil, mainly by the action of wind and rain (as surface run-off). 

Soil erosion can result in reduce soil fertility. It is a natural process, but it is made worse by people.

There are three main types of soil erosion:

  • sheet erosion: occurs in parts of the world where there is moderate rainfall. When this falls on bare soil, the top of the soil will be removed down slope. 
  • gully erosion: where there is intense rainfall, as during tropical storms, the force of the water can cut gullies in slopes. This is most likely to happen where there is little vegetation cover. 
  • wind erosion: in dry parts of the world, loose dry soil is readily blown away by the wind

Thus, areas most at risk of soil erosion:
-mountainous areas with steep slopes (e.g. Himalaya slopes in Nepal), so the topsoil is removed as rain flows downslope. One quarter of a million tonnes of topsoil are washed off the deforested mountain slopes of Nepal and northern India each year only to be deposited into the Bay of Bengal.
-areas with unreliable rainfall, as the soil dries and becomes really light so the wind can carry it away quickly

Also keep in mind that exposed soil doesn't just get washed downhill by water, it can move downwards slowly under gravity too. Soil erosion can be particularly bad during wet seasons as it is washed away by the storms and it is blown away during dry season..

Soil erosion is made more rapid and severe where there is misuse of the land.
Activities that cause problems include:

  • removing vegetation by cutting down trees and bushes for fuel or to make way for more farmland. This exposes the soil to the wind and rain.
  • overgrazing by animals-rearing too many animals in relation to amount of grass available. Result: ditto above.
  • overcultivating the soil by failing to 'feed' it with fertilisers or by growing the same crop  in the same field year after year. This monoculture weakens the soil structure and removes vital minerals from the soil. (The same crop uses up the same nutrients until it is all depleted.) The net result is that crops will fail and the soil will be left exposed to the forces of erosion. 
  • compacting the soil by the use of heavy machinery. (e.g. if a tractor went over a patch of soil, the weight of it would increase pressure on the soil, squashing it together and making it more compact.) This reduces the rate at which rainwater is able to infiltrate the soil. So much of the rainwater flows across the soil surface and erodes the soil as it does so. 
  • ploughing fields in the same direction as the slope. This readily encourages gullying. (Ploughing up and down hill creates channels down which rain water can flow. Increases amount and speed of surface run-off.)
In general, you can say that the threat of soil erosion increases with the sparseness (lack of) of vegetation. It also does so where population numbers are so great that they put pressure on the land. (E.g. increase in population means more food is needed, so farmers try to grow more crops but on the same piece of land..growing crops so intensively to feed a growing population can only result in decreasing fertility of the soil, especially when fertilisers are not added to replenish nutrients taken up by the crop!)

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Fragile environments and sustainability

Our living standards and health may depend on the quality of the Earth's physical environment, but we are destroying it. There's a delicate balance between non-living (climate, rocks, soils) and living (plants, animals) parts. 

And natural environments are fragile. That means these places are sensitive to the presence of people, and are easily abused and harmed by us. 

Though natural hazards like forest fires and volcanic eruptions have always disturbed environments, these places have always managed to recover. 
But now, the growth of the world's human population is what threatens the fragile balance of the environments the most. 

We have disturbed 90% of the Earth to some degree or another. It's hard to find truly wild and natural areas that are untouched by human activity. 

There are three important processes that are responsible for making environments more fragile:
  • soil erosion
  • desertification
  • deforestation 
They not only damage natural environments, but are linked to global warming and climate change too. In fact, they are both causes and consequences of climate change. 
I will discuss them in later posts. But keep in mind they are not the only ways in which natural environments are being upset, but for this course, they are the 3 processes focused on.

Understand that most processes that upset the natural environment relate to us humans exploiting the land. We cause a lot of land, air and water pollution.

Two terms you must know when studying fragile environments: ecological footprint and sustainability. 

Ecological footprint: this is a measure of the mark we humans make on the world.
It considers how much land and sea are needed to provide us with the water, energy and food we need to support our lifestyles. 

If the Earth's resources were shared equally among everyone, we would each have a little less than 2 hectares of the globe! However, the UK has an ecological footprint of about 5.5 global hectares per person. This means that if everyone in the world consumed resources at the rate people in UK do, we would need 2 more planets to sustain our present population. 

Sustainability: 'actions and forms of progress that meet the needs of the present without reducing the ability of future generations to meet their needs'. 
That's the textbook definition, but I like to think of it as the following just so I understand it better:
"The ability to meet the needs of the present while preserving the environment so future generations can meet their needs too. 
Try explaining 'sustainability' to someone else in your own words, to see if you truly understand it. 

Global variations in the ecological footprint

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So if we are to continue using the natural resources in the global range of different environments, we need:
  • to do so with much more moderation
  • to be aware of how easily the balances of those environments are upset
  • to reduce our ecological footprint to a minimum
It's very idealistic, and may be what we need to do, but in fact it'll be very hard to do so.

It could mean that some places cannot have economic development. Which really should be the case in the few remaining truly wilderness areas, like Antarctica, the tundra of Siberia and the Amazon rainforest. 

It's vital that the biodiversity and pristine nature of such environments are protected for the general 'health' of the Earth and its people. If not, our present abuse of the planet promises an unsustainable future. :/ 

The link between ecological footprint and sustainability is that the ecological footprint theory helps us to judge how sustainable our lives are now. It helps us to make judgement about the future too.

We know that global population will continue to grow for at least the next 50 years. It warns us of the extent to which the world's environments will become even more fragile. It advises us as to what is sustainable. 

Monday, 30 April 2012

UK Water Demand & Supply Case Study

Somebody asked for this, but it's not the case study I'm doing so this is just me copying what's in my book, it's all I've got since I know nothing about this.. :S Hope it helps anyway. 
I'll add some posts about water supply and demand that hopefully you can apply to this case study. :) 

Meeting the rising demand for water in England and Wales
Daily water consumption in England and Wales is about 120 litres per person per day. This is not a particularly high figure compared to 309 litres for France and 185 litres for Germany.

Water consumption in Britain has been rising along with the growth of population.
However, over the last 200 years, it has been given a number of pushes.
  1. The growth in manufacturing in the early 19th century. With deindustrialization in the second half of the 20th century, manufacturing uses less water (now 14%). Other consumers now account for more water use. Most notable is the use of water in the generation of electricity. More water is being used today to irrigate crops (14%) to feed a growing population and British citizens are using more water in their homes (20%). More homes today have washing machines, dishwashers and swimming pools.

Water is important in making electricity in two ways:
·   It is used to turn the turbines that generate the electricity, as in HEP (hydroelectric power).
·   It is converted into steam by the burning of fossil fuels and the steam turns the turbines.

The problem that faces England and Wales is that the distribution pattern of water demand is different from that of water supply (Figure 1.27). The highest water demand is in SE England which happens to be the driest part of the country. Water is most readily available (the rainfall is highest) in upland areas that are mainly located in Wales and the north of England. The mismatch between demand and supply creates different levels of water stress (Figure 1.28). Clearly the greatest water stress lies in the south-east of England. It is being tackled as follows:
·         Extracting as much water as possible from the aquifers of SE England
·         Constructing reservoirs in the north and west of the country to collect as much rainfall as possible. Famous reservoir schemes include Lake Vyrnwy in Wales and Kielder in NE England
·         Transferring this collected water by pipeline to the main reas of water deficit, i.e. the major cities of the Midlands and South
There is no doubt that meeting the rising demand for water is a challenge for the UK. Attempts are being made to reduce water consumption by encouraging a much more efficient use of the available water and to eliminate water wastage.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


These are taken from the Edexcel IGCSE Geography textbook, and also some of my own to complete it. 

River Environments
Abstraction: the taking of water from rivers, lakes and from below the watertable (aquifers)
Attrition: A process of erosion. The material is moved along the bed of a river, collides with other material, and breaks up into smaller pieces. 

Aquifers: permeable rock that can transfer or store water below ground (ground water)

Base flow: the usual level of a river, the part of a river's discharge fed by groundwater

Catchment area=Drainage basin
Channel network: the pattern of linked streams and rivers within a drainage basin

Clean water: water that is fit for human consumption and is therefore relatively free from pollutants

Condensation: when water vapour is cooled and changes state to form water droplets

Confluence: where two rivers/streams meet
Corrasion: a process of erosion, sometimes known as abrasion. This is when fine material rubs against the river bank. The bank is worn away, by a sand-papering action called abrasion, and collapses. 

Corrosion: a process of erosion. Some rocks forming the banks and bed of a river are dissolved by acids in the water

Cumecs: cubic metres per second, the unit for river discharge

Dam: a large structure, usually of concrete, sometimes earth, built across a river to hold back a large body of water (reservoir) taken for human use
Deposition: the dropping of material that was being carried by a moving force, such as running water

Discharge: the quantity of water flowing in a river channel at a particular location and time

Drainage basin: It is a water system involving external inputs and outputs, where the amount of water in the system varies over time. It is the area where water from precipitation (rain/snow..) drains downhill into a common body of water such as a river or lake. [The area drained by a river and its tributaries.]
Erosion: the wearing away and removal of material by a moving force, such as running water
Flood plain: the flat land lying either side of a river which periodically floods
Hydraulic action: a process of erosion. The sheer force of water hitting the banks of a river

Hydrograph: a graph showing the discharge of a river over a given period of time
Hydrological cycle: the global movement of water between the air, land and sea
Impermeable: if a material is impermeable, it does not allow water to pass through it

Interlocking spur: a series of ridges projecting out on alternate sides of a valley and around which a river winds
Levee: a raised bank of material deposited by a river during periods of flooding
Mass movement: the movement of weathered material down a slope due the force of gravity
Meander: a winding curve in a river's course
Oxbow: a horseshoe-shaped lake once part of a meandering river, but now cut off from it
Pollution: the presence of chemicals, dirt or other substances which have harmful or poisonous effects on aspects of the environment such as rivers and the air
Reservoir: an area where water is collected and stored for human use
River regime: the seasonal variations in the discharge of a river
Saltation: a process of transportation. smaller stones are bounced along the bed of a river in a leap-frogging motion

Solution: a process of transportation. Dissolved material is transported by the river.

Suspension: a process of transportation. Fine material, light enough in weight to be carried by the river. It is this material that discolours the water.

Stores: features, such as lakes, rivers and aquifers, that receive, hold and release water
Stormflow: the increase in stream velocity caused by a period of intense rainfall
Stream velocity: the speed at which water is flowing in a river at a given location and time
Traction: a process of transportation. Large rocks and boulders are rolled along the bed of the river

Transfers: the movement of water between stores in the hydrological cycle
Transport: the movement of a river’s load
Waterfall: where a river’s water falls vertically, as where a band of hard rock runs across the river channel
Watershed: the boundary between neighbouring drainage basins
Weathering: the breakdown and decay of rock by natural processes, without the involvement of any moving force

Hazardous Environments
Adjustment: changes designed to react to and cope with a situation, such as the threat posed by a hazard

Earthquake: a violent shaking of the Earth’s crust

Emergency aid: help in the form of food, medical care and temporary housing provided 
immediately after a natural disaster

Epicentre: the point on the Earth’s surface that is directly above the focus of an earthquake

Hazard: an event which threatens the wellbeing of people and their property

Infrastructure: the transport networks and the water, sewage and communication systems that are vital to people and their settlements and businesses

Lahar: a flow of wet material down the side of a volcano’s ash cone which can become a serious hazard

Natural disaster: a natural event or hazard causing damage and destruction to property, as well as personal injuries and death

Natural event: something happening in the physical environment, such as a storm, volcanic eruption or earthquake

Plate movement: mainly the coming together and the moving apart of tectonic plates

Prediction: forecasting future events or changes

Pyroclastic flow: a devastating eruption of extremely hot gas, ash and rocks during a period of explosive volcanic activity; the downslope flow to this mixture is capable of reaching speeds up to 200kph.

Risk assessment: judging the degree of damage and destruction that an area might experience as a result of a natural event

Storm surge: a rapid rise in sea level in which water is piled up against the coastline to a level far exceeding the normal. It tend to happen when there is very low atmospheric pressure and where seawater is pushed into a narrow channel

Subduction: the pushing down of one tectonic plate under another at a collision plate margin. Pressure and heat convert the plate into magma

Tropical revolving storm: a weather system of very low-pressure formed over tropical seas and involving strong winds and heavy rainfall (also known as cyclone, hurricane or typhoon)

Tsunami: a tidal wave caused by the shock waves originating from a submarine earthquake or volcanic eruption

Volcanic activity: the eruption of molten rock, ash or gases from a volcano

Economic activity and energy

Economic sector: a major division of the economy based on the type of economic activity. The economies of all countries are made up of three sectors; most HICs have a fourth sector.

Energy: heat and motive power. The former provided by the sun and by burning coal, oil and timber, the latter provided by electricity, gas, steam and nuclear power

Energy consumption: the amount of energy used by individuals, groups of countries

Energy efficiency: making the most of energy sources in order to cut down on waste and reduce consumption

Energy gap: a gap created because the loss of energy caused by phasing out the use of fossil fuels is greater than the amount of energy that is being developed from new, low-carbon sources

Fossil fuel: carbon fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas that cannot be ‘remade/renewed’, because it will take tens of millions of years for them to form again

Global shift: the movement of manufacturing from HICs to cheaper production locations in LICs

High-tech industry: economic activities that rely on advanced scientific research and produce new, innovative and technologically advanced products, such as microchips, new medical drugs and new materials

Informal employment: types of work that are not officially recognized and are taken up by people working for themselves on the streets of LIC cities. e.g. shoe shining, selling stuff on the street

Non-renewable energy: energy produced from resources that cannot be replaced once they are used. Examples include the fossil fuels of coal, oil and natural gas

Primary sector: economic activities concerned with the working of natural resources-agriculture, fishing, mining and quarrying

Quaternary sector: economic activities that provide highly skilled services such as collecting and processing information, research and development

Secondary sector: economic activities concerned with making things, such as cars, buildings and electricity

Renewable energy: sources of energy which cannot be exhausted, such as the sun, wind and running water

Tertiary sector: activities that provide a wide range of services and enable goods to be traded

Transnational company (TNC): a large company operating in a number of countries and often involved in a variety of economic activities

Urban environments

Accessibility: the ease with which one location can be reached from another; the degree to which people are able to obtain goods and services, such as housing and healthcare

Brownfield site: land that has been previously used, abandoned and now awaits a new use

Congestion: acute overcrowding caused by high densities of traffic, business and people

Counterurbanisation: the movement of people and employment from major cities to smaller cities and towns as well as to rural areas

Environmental quality: the degree to which an area is free from air, water, noise and visual pollution

Ethnic group: a group of people united by a common characteristic such as race, language or religion

Greenfield site: land that has not been used for urban development

Land value: the market price of a piece of land; what people or businesses are prepared to pay for owning and occupying it

Megacity: a city or urban area with a population larger than 10 million

Poverty: where people are seriously lacking in terms of income, food, housing, basic services (clean water and sewage disposal) and access to education and healthcare. See also Social Deprivation.

Shanty town: an area of slum housing built of salvaged materials and located either on the city edge or within the city on hazardous ground previously avoided by urban development; I like to think of it as: a slum settlement (sometimes illegal or unauthorized) of impoverished people who live in improvised dwellings made from scrap materials: packing boxes, corrugated iron and plastic sheeting, often on undesirable locations such as steep slopes or on the city edge.

Social deprivation: when the well-being and quality of life of people falls below a minimum level

Social segregation: the clustering together of people with similar characteristics (class, ethnicity, wealth) into separate residential areas

Socio-economic group: a group of people sharing the same characteristics such as income level, type of employment and class

Squatter community: see Shanty town

Suburbanisation: the outward spread of the urban area, often at lower densities compared with the older parts of the city or town

Urban regeneration: the investment of capital in the reviving of old, urban areas by either improving what is there or clearing it away and rebuilding

Urban re-imaging: changing the image of an urban area and the way people view it

Urban managers: people who make important decisions affecting urban areas, such as planners, politicians and developers

Urbanisation: growth in the percentage of people living and working in urban areas

Fragile environments

Agro-forestry: the growing of trees for the benefit of agriculture: as wind breaks or as protection against soil erosion

Alternative energy: renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind power, that offer an alternative to the use of fossil fuels

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs): chemicals once used in foams, refrigerators, aerosols and air-conditioning units. Their use is now banned because they were thought to be responsible for the destruction of the world’s ozone layer and for part of the greenhouse effect

Climate change: long-term changes in the global atmospheric conditions

Deforestation: the deliberate clearing of forested land, often causing serious environmental problems such as soil erosion

Desertification: the spread of desert conditions into what where semi-arid areas

Famine: a chronic shortage of food resulting in many people dying from starvation

Fossil fuel: carbon fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas that cannot be ‘remade’ because it will take tens of millions of years for them to form again (i.e they are finite)

Fragile: a term used to describe those natural environments that are sensitive to, and easily abused by human activities

Global warming: a process whereby global temperatures rise over time

Malnutrition: a condition resulting when a person is unable to eat what is needed to maintain good health

Overgrazing: when pasture or grazing is unable to support the number of animals relying on it for food. The result is the vegetation cover declines and soil erosion sets in.

Population pressure: when the number of people in an area begins to approach carrying capacity and places a strain on available resources

Refugee: a person whose reasons for migrating are due to fear of persecution or death

Soil erosion: the washing or blowing away of topsoil so that the fertility of the remaining soil is greatly reduced

Sustainable: a term used to describe actions that minimize negative impacts on the environment and promote human well-being

Well-being: a condition experienced by people and greatly influenced by the standard of living and quality of life 

Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Three Gorges Dam, Yangtze River, China

In the IGCSE Geography Specification, you're meant to know a case study for a dam or reservoir project, and I learnt this, so...: 

Case Study of a Dam or Reservoir Project: The Three Gorges Dam, Yangtze River, China (multi-purpose scheme)
Yangtze River: Intro Facts
·         Source=Himalayas, flows into the East China Sea at Shanghai
·         3rd longest river in the world
·         Floods regularly, unpredictable, prone to severe flooding (every 10 years on average)
·         Last great flood-1998, an area the size of New Zealand was flooded
·         US$30 billion worth of damage
·         In the 20th century, over 300,000 people have been killed by the Yangtze floods

The Three Gorges Dam: A multi-purpose scheme
Main purpose: to prevent flooding downstream
Other uses:
·         Generates HEP (hydro-electric power)
·         Provides water to urban areas and to agriculture (irrigation)
·         Will improve river transport upstream

Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Three Gorges Dam

Benefits/Advantages/Positive Effects (in order of importance according to me)
1.       Control flooding downstream of the dam.
2.       Provides water to urban areas and for agriculture-irrigation. (The reservoir can store up to 5 trillion gallons of water.
3.       The HEP generated will provide 15% of China’s electricity demand.
a.       This will decrease China’s dependency on coal and therefore reduce greenhouse gas emission.
4.       Thousands of construction jobs were created during the building of the dam.
5.       China will be able to bring 10,000 ton ocean going vessels all the way inland, 2000km up to the city of Chongqing.
6.       The dam will become a tourist attraction and will attract a lot of people to the area. Many tertiary sector/service jobs will be created.
7.       The electricity generated will help the economic development of cities such as Chongqing, population=3 million.

Costs/Disadvantages/Negative Effects (in order of importance according to me)
1.       Several large towns upstream, such as Fuling (population=80,000) and Wanxian (population=140,000) will be flooded.
a.       Ancient temples, burial grounds and other historic sites will be lost beneath the reservoir too.
2.       Over 1.3 million people will have to be relocated.
3.       Much of the land used for resettlement is over 800m above sea level, where the climate is colder and the soil can barely support farming.
4.       The pressure created by the huge weight of the water in the reservoir behind the dam could trigger earthquakes. (But it is engineered to withstand an earthquake of 7.0 on the Richter scale.)
5.       The untreated human and industrial waste will not be washed away downstream, but will stay and pollute the river instead.
6.       Areas downstream will be deprived of fertile sediment.
7.       It will divert money from other developments. It is currently one of the most expensive projects in the world, costing more than $26 billion, over their budget.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Fieldwork Opportunities: Hazardous Environments

Fieldwork Opportunities: Hazardous Environments

Measuring, collecting and recording weather data:
  • During the passage of a tropical storm, local weather stations will record an enormous increase in wind speed and rainfall.
  • Instrument area is used to measure local weather conditions in calmer, drier conditions-providing primary data.
  • Care and accuracy important when measuring weather-instrument itself has to be suitable as well as its use accurate.
  • Should have an easy to complete record sheet showing date, time and columns for each element of the weather you have instruments for. Eg maximum/minimum temperature and rainfall.
  • Records should be kept daily and for at least a week. Readings should be taken preferably at same time each day.

Rain Gauge:
  • It should be placed in open space so it can collect rain water straight from the sky.
  • Rain is collected in a measuring flask and the measurement can be read easily.
  • Once reading is noted, the water has to be tipped away daily.

Stevenson Screen:
  • Instruments used to measure temperature and humidity should be kept inside a Stevenson Screen.
  • It’s a wooden box used to shade from direct sunlight and radiation so that the instruments inside can measure air temperature.
  • It’s painted white to reflect sunlight and has vents to allow free flow of air. This makes the readings fair.
  • Maximum-minimum thermometer housed inside measures the highest and lowest temperature, often within a 24-hour period. –weather data should be standardised.
  • Readings have to be taken so that they can be compared with those taken at other places and at other times.
  • After noting temperature readings, the thermometer has to be reset by sliding the magnetic base over the mercury columns.

Cup Anemometer and wind valve:
  • Wind valve measures wind direction.
  • Cup anemometer is a weather instrument that measures wind speed/strength.
  • There are 3 to 4 cups mounted on a vertical pole. The cups catch the blowing wind and turn the pole.
  • Each time the anemometer makes a full rotation, the wind speed is measured by the number of revolutions per minute (RPM).
  • The number of revolutions is recorded over time and an average is determined.