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A stream is a
body of water (Lysefjord) in Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official written standard for the Norwegian language, alongside Nynorsk. ...

body of water
with surface water flowing within the
bed A bed is a piece of furniture Furniture refers to movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating (e.g., chairs, stools, and sofas), eating (table (furniture), tables), and sleeping (e.g., beds). Furniture i ...
and
bank A bank is a financial institution Financial institutions, otherwise known as banking institutions, are corporation A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company—authorized by the State (polity), state ...
s of a
channel Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path of a narrow body of water. Australia * Channel Country, region of outback Austr ...
. The flow of a stream is controlled by three inputs – surface water, subsurface water and groundwater. The surface and subsurface water are highly variable between periods of rainfall. Groundwater, on the other hand, has a relatively constant input and is controlled more by long-term patterns of precipitation. The stream encompasses surface, subsurface and groundwater fluxes that respond to geological, geomorphological, hydrological and biotic controls. Depending on its location or certain characteristics, a stream may be referred to by a variety of local or regional names. Long large streams are usually called
river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of water ...

river
s. Streams are important as conduits in the
water cycle The water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle or the hydrological cycle, describes the continuous movement of water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, ...

water cycle
, instruments in
groundwater recharge Groundwater recharge or deep drainage or deep percolation is a process, where moves downward from to . Recharge is the primary method through which water enters an . This process usually occurs in the below plant s and, is often expressed as ...
, and corridors for
fish Fish are , , -bearing animals that lack with . Included in this definition are the living , s, and and as well as various extinct related groups. Around 99% of living fish species are ray-finned fish, belonging to the class , with over 95 ...

fish
and
wildlife Wildlife traditionally refers to undomesticated animal species (biology), species, but has come to include all organisms that grow or live wild in an area without being introduced species, introduced by humans. Wildlife was also synonymous ...

wildlife
migration. The biological
habitat Ibex in an alpine habitat In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. ...

habitat
in the immediate vicinity of a stream is called a
riparian zone A riparian zone or riparian area is the interface between land and a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground an ...
. Given the status of the ongoing
Holocene extinction The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the sixth mass extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is an ongoing extinction event An extinction event (also known as a mass extinction or biotic crisis) is a widespread and rapid decrease in ...
, streams play an important
corridor Corridor or The Corridor may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Films *The Corridor (1968 film), ''The Corridor'' (1968 film), a 1968 Swedish drama film *The Corridor (1995 film), ''The Corridor'' (1995 film), a 1995 Lithuanian drama fi ...
role in connecting fragmented habitats and thus in conserving
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and of . Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the , , and level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near the , which is the result of the warm and high . Biodiversity is not distributed ev ...

biodiversity
. The study of streams and
waterway A waterway is any navigable A body of water ( Lysefjord) in Norway Norway ( nb, ; nn, ; se, Norga; smj, Vuodna; sma, Nöörje), officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic countries, Nordic country in Northern Europe whose ...

waterway
s in general is known as ''surface
hydrology Hydrology (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 mill ...
'' and is a core element of
environmental geography Integrated geography (also referred to as integrative geography, environmental geography or human–environment geography) is the branch of geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of sc ...
.


Types


Brook

A stream smaller than a creek, especially one that is fed by a
spring Spring(s) may refer to: Common uses * Spring (season), a season of the year * Spring (device), a mechanical device that stores energy * Spring (hydrology), a natural source of water * Spring (mathematics), a geometric surface in the shape of a heli ...
or
seep A seep or flush is a moist or wet place where water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in which it acts as a ). It is ...
. It is usually small and easily forded. A brook is characterised by its shallowness.


Creek

A creek () or crick (): * In Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, a (narrow) stream that is smaller than a river; a minor tributary of a river; a brook. Sometimes navigable by motor craft and may be intermittent. * In the UK, India, and parts of
Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware a ...

Maryland
,
New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as the American Northeast, the Northeast, and the East Coast) is a geographical region In geography G ...

New England
, a
tidal
tidal
inlet An inlet is an indentation of a shoreline, usually long and narrow, such as a small bay or arm, that often leads to an enclosed body of water, body of salt water, such as a Sound (geography), sound, bay, lagoon, or marsh. Overview In sea coasts, ...

inlet
, typically in a
salt marsh A salt marsh or saltmarsh, also known as a coastal salt marsh or a tidal marsh A tidal marsh (also known as a type of "tidal wetland") is a marsh found along rivers, coasts and estuary, estuaries which floods and drains by the tide, tidal move ...

salt marsh
or
mangrove swamp A mangrove swamp is a distinct saline woodland A woodland () is, in the broad sense, land covered with trees, or in a narrow sense, synonymous with wood (or in the U.S., the '' plurale tantum'' woods), a low-density forest A forest is ...

mangrove swamp
, or between enclosed and drained former salt marshes or swamps (e.g. Port Creek separating
Portsea Island Portsea Island is a flat, low-lying island in area, just off the southern coast of England in the county of Hampshire, which contains the majority of the city of Portsmouth. Portsea Island has the third-largest population of all the isla ...
from the mainland). In these cases, the "stream" is the tidal stream, the course of the
seawater Seawater, or salt water, is water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in which it acts as a ). It is vital for al ...

seawater
through the
creek A creek is a stream that is usually smaller than a river Creek may refer to: People * Muscogee, also known as Creek, Native Americans * Murder of Amber Creek, Amber Creek (1982–1997), American murder victim * Mitch Creek (born 1992), Austral ...
channel at low and high tide.


River

A large natural stream, which may be a
waterway A waterway is any navigable A body of water ( Lysefjord) in Norway Norway ( nb, ; nn, ; se, Norga; smj, Vuodna; sma, Nöörje), officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic countries, Nordic country in Northern Europe whose ...

waterway
.


Runnel

The linear channel between the parallel ridges or
bars
bars
on a shoreline beach or river floodplain, or between a bar and the shore. Also called a swale.


Tributary

A
tributary A tributary, or affluent, is a stream A stream is a body of water (Lysefjord) in Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") ...
is a contributory stream, or a stream which does not reach a static body of water such as a lake or ocean, but joins another river (a parent river). Sometimes also called a branch or fork.Bisson, Peter and Wondzell, Steven
"Olympic Experimental State Forest Synthesis of Riparian Research and Monitoring"
United States Forest Service The United States Forest Service (USFS) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that administers the nation's 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands. The Forest Service manages of land. Major divisions of the agency in ...
, p. 15 (December 1, 2009).


Distributary

A distributary, or a distributary channel, is a stream that branches off and flows away from a main stream channel. Distributaries are a common feature of
river delta A river delta is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other planetary body A planet is an astronomical body Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the ...

river delta
s. The phenomenon is known as
river bifurcation River deltas such as the pictured delta of the Salween River in Myanmar">Salween_River.html" ;"title="River deltas such as the pictured delta of the Salween River">River deltas such as the pictured delta of the Salween River in Myanmar often show ...
. Distributaries are often found where a stream approaches a
lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a basin, surrounded by land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable ove ...

lake
or an
ocean The ocean (also the sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
. They can also occur inland, on
alluvial fan Pyrenees An alluvial fan is an accumulation of sediments shaped like a section of a shallow cone, with its apex at a point source of sediments, such as a narrow canyon emerging from an escarpment. They are characteristic of mountainous terrain in ...

alluvial fan
s, or where a tributary stream bifurcates as it nears its
confluence In geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...

confluence
with a larger stream. Common terms to name individual river distributaries in English-speaking countries are ''arm'' and ''channel''.


Other names

There are a number of regional names for a stream.


Northern America

* ''Branch'' is used to name streams in Maryland and Virginia. * ''Creek'' is common throughout the United States, as well as Australia. * ''Falls'' is also used to name streams in Maryland, for streams/rivers which have waterfalls on them, even if such falls only have a small vertical drop. Little Gunpowder Falls and the
Jones Falls The Jones Falls is a U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline dataThe National Map , accessed April 1, 2011 stream in Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid- ...
are actually rivers named in this manner, unique to Maryland. * ''
Kill Kill often refers to: *Homicide, one human killing another Kill may also refer to: Media *''Kill!'', a 1968 film directed by Kihachi Okamoto *Kill (Cannibal Corpse album), ''Kill'' (Cannibal Corpse album), 2006 *Kill (Electric Six album), ''Kill' ...
'' in
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * New ...
,
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
,
Delaware Delaware ( ) is a state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Maryland to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean to its east. The state takes i ...
, and
New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, Northeastern regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York (state), New York; on the ea ...
comes from a
Dutch language Dutch ( ) is a West Germanic language spoken by about 25 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting most of the population of the Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of ...
word meaning "riverbed" or "water channel", and can also be used for the UK meaning of 'creek'. * ''Run'' in
Ohio Ohio () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Co ...

Ohio
,
Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware a ...

Maryland
,
Michigan Michigan () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Michigan
, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, or West Virginia can be the name of a stream. * ''Run'' in
Florida Florida is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia (U.S. state), Geor ...

Florida
is the name given to streams coming out of small natural
springs Spring(s) may refer to: Common uses * Spring (season), a season of the year * Spring (device), a mechanical device that stores energy * Spring (hydrology), a natural source of water * Spring (mathematics), a geometric surface in the shape of a heli ...
. ''River'' is used for streams from larger springs like the Silver River and
Rainbow River
Rainbow River
. * ''Stream'' and ''brook'' are used in Midwestern states,
Mid-Atlantic states The Middle Atlantic states, commonly shortened to Mid-Atlantic states, is a List of regions of the United States, region of the United States generally located in the overlap between the Northeastern United States, Northeastern and Southeastern Uni ...
, and
New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as the American Northeast, the Northeast, and the East Coast) is a geographical region In geography G ...

New England
.


United Kingdom

* ''Allt'' is used in the
Scottish Highlands The Highlands ( sco, the Hielands; gd, a’ Ghàidhealtachd , 'the place of the Gaels The Gaels ( ; ga, Na Gaeil ; gd, Na Gàidheil ; gv, Ny Gaeil ) are an ethnolinguistic group An ethnolinguistic group (or ethno-linguistic group) ...

Scottish Highlands
. * ''
Beck is a Japanese manga Manga (Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white recta ...
'' is used in
Lincolnshire Lincolnshire (abbreviated Lincs.) is a Counties of England, county in the East Midlands of England, with a long coastline on the North Sea to the east. It borders Norfolk to the south-east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south-w ...

Lincolnshire
to
Cumbria Cumbria ( ) is a ceremonial A ceremony (, ) is a unified ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed according to a set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a ...

Cumbria
in areas which were once occupied by the Danes and Norwegians. * ''
Bourne Bourne or Bourn may refer to: General Water * A bourne (stream), an intermittent stream, flowing from a spring * A winterbourne (stream), a stream or river that is dry through the summer months Organizations *Bourne Co. Music Publishers, an Ameri ...
'' or '' winterbourne'' is used in the chalk
downland , Isle of Wight The Isle of Wight () is a Counties of England, ceremonial county and the List of islands of England, largest and second-most populous island in England. It is in the English Channel, between two and five miles off the coast of H ...
of southern England for ephemeral rivers. When permanent, they are '' chalk streams''. * ''Brook''. * ''Burn'' is used in Scotland and
North East England North East England is one of nine official regions of England at the First-level NUTS of the European Union, first level of NUTS statistical regions of the United Kingdom, NUTS for Eurostat, statistical purposes. The region includes the counti ...
. * ''
Gill A gill () is a respiratory organ that many aquatic Aquatic means relating to water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent ...
'' or ''ghyll'' is seen in the north of England and
Kent Kent is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), William and Robert ...

Kent
and
Surrey Surrey () is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), William and R ...

Surrey
influenced by
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skades ...
. The variant "ghyll" is used in the
Lake District The Lake District, also known as the Lakes or Lakeland, is a mountainous region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, ...

Lake District
and appears to have been an invention of
William Wordsworth William Wordsworth (7 April 177023 April 1850) was an English Romantic Romantic may refer to: Genres and eras * The Romantic era, an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement of the 18th and 19th centuries ** Romantic music, of ...

William Wordsworth
. * ''Nant'' is used in Wales. * '' Rivulet'' is a term encountered in Victorian era publications. * ''Stream'' * ''
Syke Syke () is a town in the district of Diepholz, Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state The Federal Republic of Germany, as a federal state, consists of sixteen partl ...
'' is used in the
Scottish Lowlands The Lowlands ( sco, Lallans or ; gd, a' Ghalldachd, , place of the foreigners, ) is a cultural and historical region of Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Sc ...
and Cumbria for a seasonal stream.


Other terminology

;
Bar Bar or BAR may refer to: Food *Bar (establishment) A bar is a long raised narrow table or bench designed for dispensing beer or other alcoholic beverage, alcoholic drinks. They were originally chest high, and a bar, often brass, ran the len ...
: A
shoal In oceanography Oceanography (from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the peri ...
that develops in a stream as sediment is deposited as the current slows or is impeded by wave action at the confluence. ;
Bifurcation Bifurcation or bifurcated may refer to: Science and technology * Bifurcation theory, the study of sudden changes in dynamical systems ** Bifurcation, of an incompressible flow, modeled by squeeze mapping#Fluid flow, squeeze mapping the fluid flow * ...
: A fork into two or more streams. ;
Channel Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path of a narrow body of water. Australia * Channel Country, region of outback Austr ...
: A depression created by constant
erosion In earth science Earth science or geoscience includes all fields of natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific ...

erosion
that carries the stream's flow. ;
Confluence In geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...
: The point at which the two streams merge. If the two tributaries are of approximately equal size, the confluence may be called a fork. ;
Drainage basin A drainage basin is any area of land where precipitation collects and drains off into a common outlet, such as into a river, bay, or other body of water. The drainage basin includes all the surface water from surface runoff, rain runoff, snowm ...

Drainage basin
: (also known as a ''watershed'' in the United States) The area of land where water flows into a stream. A large drainage basin such as the
Amazon River The Amazon River (, ; es, Río Amazonas, pt, Rio Amazonas) in South America South America is a entirely in the and mostly in the , with a relatively small portion in the . It can also be described as the southern of a single con ...

Amazon River
contains many smaller drainage basins. ;
Floodplain A floodplain or flood plain or bottomlands is an area of land adjacent to a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows int ...
: Lands adjacent to the stream that are subject to
flood A flood is an overflow of water that submerges land that is usually dry. In the sense of "flowing water", the word may also be applied to the inflow of the tide Tides are the rise and fall of sea level Mean sea level (MSL) (often ...

flood
ing when a stream overflows its banks. ; Gaging station: A site along the route of a stream or river, used for reference marking or water monitoring. ;
Headwaters The headwaters of a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course witho ...
: The part of a stream or river proximate to its source. The word is most commonly used in the plural where there is no single
point source A point source is a single identifiable ''localised'' source of something. A point source has negligible extent, distinguishing it from other source geometries. Sources are called point sources because in mathematical modeling, these sources can us ...
. ;
Knickpoint 250px, The Horseshoe Falls, one of the three Niagara Falls. The falls are a knickpoint, formed by slower erosion above the falls than below. In geomorphology incised into shale at the foot of the North Caineville Plateau, Utah, within the pass ...
: The point on a stream's profile where a sudden change in
stream gradientStream gradient is the grade (slope), grade measured by the ratio of drop in elevation of a stream per unit horizontal distance, usually expressed as metre, meters per kilometre, kilometer or Foot (length), feet per mile. Hydrology and geology A hig ...
occurs. ;
Mouth In animal anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is ...

Mouth
: The point at which the stream discharges, possibly via an
estuary An estuary is a partially enclosed Coast, coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zone between river environments and maritime envir ...

estuary
or
delta Delta commonly refers to: * Delta (letter) (Δ or δ), a letter of the Greek alphabet * River delta, a landform at the mouth of a river * D (NATO phonetic alphabet: "Delta"), the fourth letter of the modern English alphabet * Delta Air Lines, an Ame ...

delta
, into a static body of water such as a
lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a basin, surrounded by land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable ove ...

lake
or
ocean The ocean (also the sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
. ;
Pool Pool may refer to: Water pool * Swimming pool A swimming pool, swimming bath, wading pool, paddling pool, or simply pool, is a structure designed to hold water to enable Human swimming, swimming or other leisure activities. Pools can be ...
: A segment where the water is deeper and slower moving. ;
Rapids Rapids are sections of a river where the river bed has a relatively steep gradient In vector calculus, the gradient of a scalar-valued function, scalar-valued differentiable function of Function of several variables, several variables is the ...

Rapids
: A
turbulent In fluid dynamics In physics and engineering, fluid dynamics is a subdiscipline of fluid mechanics that describes the flow of fluids—liquids and gases. It has several subdisciplines, including aerodynamics (the study of air and other gases ...

turbulent
, fast-flowing stretch of a stream or river. ;
Riffle A riffle is a shallow in a flowing channel, and it has specific topographic, sedimentary, and hydraulic indicators. These are almost always assessed at a very low discharge compared to the flow that fills the channel (approximately 10–20%), ...

Riffle
: A segment where the flow is shallower and more
turbulent In fluid dynamics In physics and engineering, fluid dynamics is a subdiscipline of fluid mechanics that describes the flow of fluids—liquids and gases. It has several subdisciplines, including aerodynamics (the study of air and other gases ...

turbulent
. ;
River A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of wate ...

River
: A large natural stream, which may be a
waterway A waterway is any navigable A body of water ( Lysefjord) in Norway Norway ( nb, ; nn, ; se, Norga; smj, Vuodna; sma, Nöörje), officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic countries, Nordic country in Northern Europe whose ...

waterway
. ; Run: A somewhat smoothly flowing segment of the stream. ;
Source Source or subsource or ''variation'', may refer to: Research * Historical document * Historical source * Source (intelligence) or subsource, typically a confidential provider of non open-source intelligence * Source (journalism), a person, public ...
: The spring from which the stream originates, or other point of origin of a stream. ;
Spring Spring(s) may refer to: Common uses * Spring (season), a season of the year * Spring (device), a mechanical device that stores energy * Spring (hydrology), a natural source of water * Spring (mathematics), a geometric surface in the shape of a heli ...
: The point at which a stream emerges from an underground course through unconsolidated
sediment Sediment is a naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently sediment transport, transported by the action of wind, water, or ice or by the force of gravity acting on the particles. ...

sediment
s or through caves. A stream can, especially with
cave A cave or cavern is a natural void in the Earth#Surface, ground, specifically a space large enough for a human to enter. Caves often form by the weathering of rock and often extend deep underground. The word ''cave'' can also refer to much small ...

cave
s, flow aboveground for part of its course, and underground for part of its course. ;
Stream bed A stream bed or streambed is the channel bottom of a stream A stream is a body of water with surface water flowing within the stream bed, bed and Bank (geography), banks of a Channel (geography), channel. The flow of a stream is controlle ...
: The bottom of a stream. ; Stream corridor: Stream, its floodplains, and the transitional upland fringe ;
Streamflow Streamflow, or channel runoff, is the flow of water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main cons ...

Streamflow
: The water moving through a stream channel. ;
Thalweg In geography and fluvial geomorphology, a thalweg or talweg () is the line of lowest elevation within a valley or watercourse. Under international law, a thalweg is the middle of the primary navigable channel of a waterway that defines the boundar ...

Thalweg
: The river's longitudinal section, or the line joining the deepest point in the channel at each stage from source to mouth. ;
Waterfall A waterfall is a point in a or where water flows over a vertical drop or a series of steep drops. Waterfalls also occur where drops over the edge of a tabular or . Waterfalls can be formed in several ways, but the most common method of fo ...

Waterfall
or cascade: The fall of water where the stream goes over a sudden drop called a
knickpoint 250px, The Horseshoe Falls, one of the three Niagara Falls. The falls are a knickpoint, formed by slower erosion above the falls than below. In geomorphology incised into shale at the foot of the North Caineville Plateau, Utah, within the pass ...
; some knickpoints are formed by erosion when water flows over an especially resistant
stratum In geology and related fields, a stratum (plural: strata) is a layer of sedimentary rock or soil, or igneous rock that was formed at the Earth's surface, with internally consistent characteristics that distinguish it from other layers. The "str ...
, followed by one less so. The stream expends
kinetic energy In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular ...
in "trying" to eliminate the knickpoint. ;
Wetted perimeter Image:Wetted perimeter.gif, Change of wetted perimeter (blue) of trapezoidal canal as a function of angle ''ψ''. The wetted perimeter is the perimeter of the cross sectional area that is "wet". The length of line of the intersection of channel wett ...

Wetted perimeter
: The line on which the stream's surface meets the channel walls.


Sources

A stream's source depends on the surrounding landscape and its function within larger river networks. While perennial and intermittent streams are typically supplied by smaller upstream waters and groundwater, headwater and ephemeral streams streams often derive most of their water from
precipitation In meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the (which include and ), with a major focus on . The study of meteorology dates back , though significant progress in meteorology did not begin until the 18th century. The 19th century saw mod ...
in the form of
rain Rain is liquid water in the form of droplet Rain water flux from a canopy. Among the forces that govern drop formation: cohesion, Van der Waals force">Cohesion_(chemistry).html" ;"title="surface tension, Cohesion (chemistry)">cohesion, ...

rain
and
snow Snow comprises individual ice Ice is water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in which it acts as a ). ...

snow
. Most of this precipitated water re-enters the atmosphere by
evaporation Evaporation is a type of that occurs on the of a as it changes into the gas phase. The surrounding gas must not be saturated with the evaporating substance. When the molecules of the liquid collide, they transfer energy to each other bas ...

evaporation
from soil and water bodies, or by the
evapotranspiration Evapotranspiration (ET) is the sum of water evaporation and transpiration from a surface area to the Atmosphere of Earth, atmosphere. Evaporation accounts for the movement of water to the air from sources such as the soil, canopy interception, and ...

evapotranspiration
of plants. Some of the water proceeds to sink into the earth by
infiltration Infiltration may refer to: Science, medicine, and engineering *Infiltration (hydrology), downward movement of water into soil *Infiltration (HVAC), a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning term for air leakage into buildings *Infiltration (med ...
and becomes
groundwater Groundwater is the water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in which it acts as a ). It is vital for all known form ...

groundwater
, much of which eventually enters streams. Some precipitated water is temporarily locked up in snow fields and
glacier A glacier (; ) is a persistent body of dense ice Ice is into a state. Depending on the presence of such as particles of soil or bubbles of air, it can appear transparent or a more or less bluish-white color. In the , ice is abunda ...

glacier
s, to be released later by evaporation or melting. The rest of the water flows off the land as
runoff Runoff, run-off or RUNOFF may refer to: * RUNOFF Runoff, run-off or RUNOFF may refer to: * RUNOFF, the first computer text-formatting program * Runoff or run-off, another name for bleed (printing), bleed, printing that lies beyond the edges to wh ...
, the proportion of which varies according to many factors, such as wind, humidity, vegetation, rock types, and relief. This runoff starts as a thin film called sheet wash, combined with a network of tiny rills, together constituting sheet runoff; when this water is concentrated in a channel, a stream has its birth. Some creeks may start from ponds or lakes.


Characteristics


Ranking

To qualify as a stream, a body of water must be either recurring or perennial. Recurring (
intermittent In dynamical systems, intermittency is the irregular alternation of phases of apparently periodic and Chaos theory, chaotic dynamics (Pomeau–Manneville scenario, Pomeau–Manneville dynamics), or different forms of chaotic dynamics (crisis-in ...
) streams have water in the channel for at least part of the year. A stream of the first order is a stream which does not have any other recurring or perennial stream feeding into it. When two first-order streams come together, they form a second-order stream. When two second-order streams come together, they form a third-order stream. Streams of lower order joining a higher order stream do not change the order of the higher stream. Thus, if a first-order stream joins a second-order stream, it remains a second-order stream. It is not until a second-order stream combines with another second-order stream that it becomes a third-order stream.


Gradient

The ''gradient'' of a stream is a critical factor in determining its character and is entirely determined by its
base level In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the processe ...
of erosion. The base level of erosion is the point at which the stream either enters the ocean, a lake or pond, or enters a stretch in which it has a much lower gradient, and may be specifically applied to any particular stretch of a stream. In geological terms, the stream will erode down through its bed to achieve the base level of erosion throughout its course. If this base level is low, then the stream will rapidly cut through underlying strata and have a steep gradient, and if the base level is relatively high, then the stream will form a flood plain and meander.


Meander

Meander A meander is one of a series of regular sinuous curves in the channel of a river or other watercourse. It is produced as a watercourse the s of an outer, concave bank () and deposits sediments on an inner, convex bank which is typically a . Th ...

Meander
s are looping changes of direction of a stream caused by the erosion and deposition of bank materials. These are typically serpentine in form. Typically, over time the meanders gradually migrate downstream. If some resistant material slows or stops the downstream movement of a meander, a stream may erode through the neck between two legs of a meander to become temporarily straighter, leaving behind an arc-shaped body of water termed an ''
oxbow lake An oxbow lake is a U-shaped lake that forms when a wide meander of a river is Meander cutoff, cut off, creating a free-standing body of water. In south Texas, oxbows left by the Rio Grande are called ''resaca (channel), resacas''. In Australia ...

oxbow lake
'' or ''bayou''. A flood may also cause a meander to be cut through in this way.


Profile

Typically, streams are said to have a particular ''profile'', beginning with steep gradients, no flood plain, and little shifting of channels, eventually evolving into streams with low gradients, wide flood plains, and extensive meanders. The initial stage is sometimes termed a "young" or "immature" stream, and the later state a "mature" or "old" stream. However, a stream may meander for some distance before falling into a "young" stream condition.


Stream load

The
stream load{{page numbers needed, date=November 2020 Stream load is a geologic term referring to the solid matter carried by a stream (Strahler and Strahler, 2006). Erosion and bed shear stress continually remove mineral material from the stream bed, bed and ...

stream load
is defined as the solid matter carried by a stream. Streams can carry sediment, or alluvium. The amount of load it can carry (capacity) as well as the largest object it can carry (competence) are both dependent on the
velocity The velocity of an object is the rate of change of its position with respect to a frame of reference In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical scie ...

velocity
of the stream.


Perennial and non-perennial


Perennial streams

A ''
perennial stream A perennial stream or perennial river is a stream or river (channel) which has a flow of water throughout the year through at least parts of its stream bed during years of normal rainfall. Water Supply Paper 494. In the absence of irregular, pro ...
'' is one which flows continuously all year. Water Supply Paper 494. Some perennial streams may only have continuous flow in segments of its stream bed year round during years of normal rainfall. Blue-line streams are perennial streams and are marked on topographic maps with a solid blue line.


Non-perennial streams


Ephemeral stream

Generally, streams that flow only during and immediately after precipitation are termed ''ephemeral''. There is no clear demarcation between surface runoff and an ephemeral stream, and some ephemeral streams can be classed as intermittent—flow all but disappearing in the normal course of seasons but ample flow (backups) restoring stream presence such circumstances are documented when stream beds have opened up a path into mines or other underground chambers. According to official US definitions, the channels of intermittent streams are well-defined, as opposed to ephemeral streams, which may or may not have a defined channel, and rely mainly on storm runoff, as their aquatic bed is above the
water table The water table is the upper surface of the zone of saturation. The zone of saturation is where the pores and fractures of the ground are saturated with water. It can also be simply explained as the depth below which the ground is saturated. Th ...

water table
. An ephemeral stream does not have the biological, hydrological, and physical characteristics of a continuous or intermittent stream. The same non-perennial channel might change characteristics from intermittent to ephemeral over its course.


Intermittent or seasonal stream

Washes can fill up quickly during rains, and there may be a sudden torrent of water after a
thunderstorm A thunderstorm, also known as an electrical storm or a lightning storm, is a storm characterized by the presence of lightning Lightning is a naturally occurring electrostatic discharge Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is the sudden fl ...

thunderstorm
begins upstream, such as during
monsoon A monsoon () is traditionally a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation In meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the (which include and ), with a major focus on . The study of meteorology ...

monsoon
al conditions. These
flash flood A flash flood is a rapid flooding of low-lying areas: Washland, washes, rivers, dry lakes and Depression (geology), depressions. It may be caused by heavy rain associated with a severe thunderstorm, hurricane, tropical storm, or meltwater from ...
s often catch travelers by surprise.


=USA

= In the United States, an ''intermittent'' or ''seasonal stream'' is one that only flows for part of the year and is marked on
topographic map In modern mapping, a topographic map or topographic sheet is a type of map A map is a symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an , , or . Symbols allow people to go beyond wh ...
s with a line of blue dashes and dots. A ''
wash Wash or the Wash may refer to: Industry and sanitation * WASH or WaSH, "water, sanitation and hygiene", three related public health issues * Wash (distilling), the liquid produced by the fermentation step in the production of distilled beverages ...
'' or ''desert wash'' is normally a dry streambed in the
desert A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of ...

desert
s of the
American Southwest The Southwestern United States, also known as the American Southwest or simply the Southwest, is a geographic and cultural region of the United States that generally includes Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣona ...
, which flows only after significant rainfall.


=Italy

= In
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
, an intermittent stream is termed a torrent ( it, torrente). In full flood the stream may or may not be "torrential" in the dramatic sense of the word, but there will be one or more seasons in which the flow is reduced to a trickle or less. Typically torrents have Apennine rather than
Alpine Alpine may refer to: Places * Alps, a European mountain range * Alpine states, associated with the mountain range, or relating to any lofty mountain areas * Mountainous or alpine; the mountains. Australia * Alpine, New South Wales, a Northern Vill ...

Alpine
sources, and in the summer they are fed by little precipitation and no melting snow. In this case the maximum discharge will be during the spring and autumn. However, there are also glacial torrents with a different seasonal regime.


=Other regions

= An intermittent stream can also be called an arroyo in
Latin America * ht, Amerik Latin, link=no * pt, América Latina, link=no , image = Latin America (orthographic projection).svg , area = , population = ( est.) , density = , ethnic_groups = , ethnic_groups_year = 2018 , ethnic ...

Latin America
, a winterbourne in Britain, or a
wadi Wadi ( ar, وَادِي, wādī), alternatively ''wād'' ( ar, وَاد), North African Arabic Oued, is the Arabic term traditionally referring to a valley A valley is an elongated low area often running between hills or mountains, ...

wadi
in the
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
-speaking world. In Australia, an intermittent stream is usually called a creek and marked on topographic maps with a solid blue line.


Drainage basins

The extent of land basin drained by a stream is termed its
drainage basin A drainage basin is any area of land where precipitation collects and drains off into a common outlet, such as into a river, bay, or other body of water. The drainage basin includes all the surface water from surface runoff, rain runoff, snowm ...

drainage basin
(also known in North America as the watershed and, in British English, as a catchment). A basin may also be composed of smaller basins. For instance, the
Continental Divide A continental divide is a drainage divide on a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as co ...

Continental Divide
in North America divides the mainly easterly-draining and
Arctic Ocean The Arctic Ocean is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major s. It spans an area of approximately and is also known as the coldest of all the oceans. The (IHO) recognizes it as an ocean, although some call it the Arctic Medit ...

Arctic Ocean
basins from the largely westerly-flowing
Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. ...

Pacific Ocean
basin. The Atlantic Ocean basin, however, may be further subdivided into the Atlantic Ocean and
Gulf of Mexico The Gulf of Mexico ( es, Golfo de México) is an ocean basin 400px, Diagrammatic cross-section of an ocean basin, showing the various geographic features In hydrology Hydrology (from Greek: wikt:ὕδωρ, ὕδωρ, "hýdōr" meaning ...

Gulf of Mexico
drainages. (This delineation is termed the
Eastern Continental Divide Image:NorthAmerica-WaterDivides.png, upright 1.2, A map of the principal hydrological divides of North America. The Eastern Continental Divide (orange line) demarcates two watersheds of the Atlantic Ocean: the Gulf of Mexico watershed and the Atla ...
.) Similarly, the Gulf of Mexico basin may be divided into the
Mississippi River The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and b ...

Mississippi River
basin and several smaller basins, such as the
Tombigbee River The Tombigbee River is a tributary of the Mobile River, approximately 200 mi (325 km) long, in the U.S. states of Mississippi Mississippi () is a state in the Southeastern region of the United States The United States of ...
basin. Continuing in this vein, a component of the Mississippi River basin is the
Ohio River The Ohio River is a long river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course wi ...

Ohio River
basin, which in turn includes the
Kentucky River The Kentucky River is a tributary of the Ohio River, long,U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline dataThe National Map , accessed June 13, 2011 in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), U.S. Commonwealth of Kentucky. ...
basin, and so forth.


Crossings

Stream crossings are where streams are crossed by roads, Pipeline transport, pipelines, railways, or any other thing which might restrict the flow of the stream in ordinary or
flood A flood is an overflow of water that submerges land that is usually dry. In the sense of "flowing water", the word may also be applied to the inflow of the tide Tides are the rise and fall of sea level Mean sea level (MSL) (often ...

flood
conditions. Any structure over or in a stream which results in limitations on the movement of fish or other ecological elements may be an issue.


See also

* Chalk stream * Head cut (stream geomorphology), Head cut * Playfair's Law * River ecosystem * Rock-cut basin


References


External links


Glossary of stream-related terms
StreamNet {{Authority control Water streams, Bodies of water Fluvial landforms Geomorphology Hydrology Rivers