A watershed is... Types of watersheds. River basin of the Volga, the largest in Europe


2018-10-14 10:00:51




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The Watershed – concept, the study of which is actively engaged in the science of hydrology. What is the essence and value of this concept for science? What types of watersheds were identified by scientists? The answers to these questions – in our article.

Watershed –… Definition

On our planet, tens of thousands of rivers. And each of them collects water from a specific location. The watershed – is a reference line drawn on the earth's surface. Before defining the essence of the concept you should be familiar with some other terms. We are talking about two hydrological concepts: the river system and river basin.

The River system – water system consisting of a main river and all its tributaries. Under the river basin means the area from which all water (both surface and underground) is drained into a specific river system. It is now possible to give a logical and understandable definition of river watershed.

The Watershed – this is the line that separates adjacent river basins. In mountainous or hilly regions it is more pronounced, and in flat areas – more loosely. In the mountains the line of the watersheds often pass on crests and ridges. The water runoff and precipitation directed in different directions from the crest (on opposite slopes).

this is a watershed

Within the lowlands of the watershed can be expressed clearly in relief. Moreover, in such areas the line may even shift in one direction or another over time, or depending on the season.

Main types of watershed

The Watershed separating the different basins of the oceans, or denoting a region of inland runoff, called continental. For example, in America, this line runs along the highest ridges and peaks of the Cordillera and the Andean mountains.


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In Europe, the major watersheds are the Alps, the Scandinavian mountains, and Valdai hills. Within the last forms of relief originate from the three largest rivers: Volga, Dnieper and Western Dvina. Each of them carries its waters into different seas-the Caspian, Black and Baltic, respectively.

In addition, decided to allocate groundwater and surface watersheds. The first of these delineates groundwater basins, and the second – the surface. And they do not always coincide with each other.

river which is a watershed

Sometimes the concept of watershed is used to distinguish certain major landforms of the Earth. For example, the Orinoco – the river being the dividing line between the Guiana plateau and the Andes in South America. However, such wording is not quite correct from the point of view of hydrological science.

Study watersheds

The Study of the above-described conventional topographic lines is of great scientific and practical importance. Especially when we are talking about active human exploration of the geographical space.

So, when designing bridges, dams or power plants on the river, you just need to have an idea on how to pass the watershed lines in a particular region. More importantly a detailed study of the watersheds in the planning of large reservoirs. This is necessary in order to accurately calculate the amount of possible future filling of the reservoir.

The River basin of the Volga river and its watershed

Volga – it is the largest river system in Europe, which includes more than 150 thousand watercourses: rivers, permanent and intermittent streams. The drainage basin of this river covers a huge area – 1.36 million sq. km. This area is comparable in size to such countries as Peru or Mongolia. Within the river basin of the Volga is located in 30 regions of the Russian Federation, one region of Kazakhstan and dozens of large cities (including Moscow, Ryazan, Tver, Orel, Kazan, Astrakhan, Perm and others).

the watershed of the Volga

The Watershed of the Volga river passes through the Central Russian upland in the West, the hills of the Northern Ridges in the North, on the Western slopes of the Ural mountains, hills Common Syrt, and the Caspian lowlands in the South.

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