For the InstructorThese student materials complement the Water Science and Society Instructor Materials. If you would like your students to have access to the student materials, we suggest you either point them at the Student Version which omits the framing pages with information designed for faculty (and this box). Or you can download these pages in several formats that you can include in your course website or local Learning Managment System. Learn more about using, modifying, and sharing InTeGrate teaching materials.
Water moves through the landscape
The most obvious way water moves through a landscape is via stream and river channels. There is no formal definition to distinguish between brooks, creeks, streams and rivers, but generally speaking the former terms refer to smaller waterways and the latter refer to larger waterways. The terms stream and river are often used interchangeably. There are over 3.5 million miles (5.6 million kilometers) of streams and rivers in the US. If all the streams and rivers throughout the US were lined up one after the next, they would extend the distance from Earth to the moon and back...seven times! That is an incredible length of streams to be monitored, protected, regulated, and (occasionally) repaired by federal, state and local agencies, as well as industry and non-profit organizations and individuals. In addition, streams sculpt much of the surface of the Earth, forming a multitude of beautiful patterns and awe-inspiring features, as shown in Figure 1.
Sources: Top left: Antelope Canyon, Arizona. Source: Photo by Ingo Meckmann. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Bottom left: Braided drainage near confluence of the Yukon and Koyukuk rivers. Source: Figure 35, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 835.ID. Pewe, T.L. 849, Digital File:ptl00849. Bottom right: Sand ripples at Llanddwyn. Source: photo by RICHARD OUTRAM from Wales (Llanddwyn, Uploaded by PDTillman) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons