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From Rivers to Oceans



From Rivers to Oceans
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.25

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    Distributaries, distributary, drainage, velocity, historian, sediment, formation, material, survival, extremely, landscape, channel, destination, earth, perilous, view
     content words:    Nile River, Mississippi River, North America, Ganges River, Rhine River, Great Lakes, Lawrence River, Chesapeake Bay, Savannah River, Rio Grande River


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From Rivers to Oceans
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     "Raindrops are like baby oceans falling from the sky." Sounds silly? Well, rain drops may not be "baby oceans," but those water balls travel many miles before reaching the earth's oceans, their final destination. (Imagine the frequent flow miles these water drops must collect!) These drops, along with the earth's landscape, help to form river systems. River systems are groups of drainage basins and streams that drain water from specific areas of continents. These systems are extremely important to the survival of the earth's oceans.
 
2     The journey of the raindrop begins in one of the many drainage basins that exist around the world. A drainage basin collects the water that falls to the ground. The collected water is then delivered to the rivers, and in turn, sent the water to the oceans. Let's see how these systems transport rain water to the earth's oceans.
 
3     River systems contain three major parts: the trunk, the tributary, and the distributary. A tributary is a group of small streams that often begins in the mountains. These streams flow into larger streams (lakes), and then they combine with even larger streams. The trunk is a major river and its tributary rivers. Distributaries are responsible for the "last leg" of the raindrop's journey. Deltas or channels, which are part of the distributary, branch off major rivers and flow toward the ocean. Deltas were discovered by 5th century B.C. Greek historian, Herodotus. Herodotus observed that sediments were deposited at the mouth of the Nile River in Egypt on the continent of Africa. He noticed that the sediments looked like a triangle. This triangle reminded him of the Greek letter delta. The Nile River, Mississippi River (North America), Ganges River (Asia), and the Rhine River (Europe) all create deltas. Most rivers do not carry enough sediment to form deltas, or the earth material is swept away before it can be deposited at the mouth of the river. The Mississippi River carries over 220 million tons of sediment in one year into the Gulf of Mexico.

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