Lesson 4: The Nile River - An Overview

Assignment: Part B of Rains and Rivers - River Hydrographs

Now that you know all about theoretical rivers, it is time to talk about real ones, and how they behave. In this assignment, you will obtain and describe hydrographs for four Pennsylvania rivers. You will place a MS Word document containing four 2-year hydrographs and two 6-month hydrographs in the appropriate dropbox. Then you should complete the questions below and enter your responses in the Part B of Rains and Rivers: River Hydrographs" Submission Form in the Lesson 04 folder of ANGEL.

A hydrograph is just what it sounds like: a graph of water. It is a plot showing the amount of water moving through a particular spot along the stream. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) monitors hundreds of streams around the nation, and in many cases the records go back for several decades. We can therefore find out what a normal year looks like for our chosen site, and figure out the factors that might cause the observed hydrograph patterns.

Directions for Section 1

Note:   You will use the Internet for this exercise. You may want to print off these instructions as you construct hydrographs online and copy the graphs into a MS Word document. Then you will have all of the data you need in one place to answer the questions.

  1. To obtain the hydrographs, start at this website: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/sw/ (Surface-Water Data for the Nation). Your goal is to find recent data for these four streamwater monitoring stations in Pennsylvania (the 8-digit number is important).
    1. Ridley Creek at Media PA (01476480)
    2. Susquehanna River at Harrisburg PA (01570500)
    3. Lehigh River at Walnutport (01451000)
    4. Neshaminy Creek at Langhorne PA (01465500)
  2. Click on the RECENT tab from the Web site listed above. Under "Site Selection Criteria," select "Multiple Site Numbers" and click "Submit."
  3. Under "Selection Sites," type the numbers shown above. On that same page, scroll down to the bottom where it says: Retrieve USGS Daily Water Data for Selected Sites.
  4. Delete "31" from the box "Retrieve data for the previous _____ days." Enter the range of values shown in year-month-day format to receive 2 years of data.
  5. Select "graphs of data" by putting a tick mark in that box.
  6. Submit your request.
  7. After the graphs are generated, copy and paste each graph into a MS Word document that will be placed in the Lesson 4 - Part B of Rains and Rivers: River Hydrographs dropbox, located in the Dropboxes folder under the Lessons tab.

Once you have the graphs generated, answer this first set of questions:

  1. Write down the stream station names in order of largest river to smallest stream.
  2. Describe the shape of the dark red/brown curve for each station (if they are all alike, you need to describe it only one time and make sure you indicate that they are all alike).
  3. What causes the seasonality in stream flow along the dark red/brown curves?
  4. What causes the little "wiggles" along the dark red/brown hydrographs?
  5. Compare the blue curves to the dark red/brown curves (if they are all alike, you need to describe it only one time and make sure you indicate that they are all alike).
  6. What causes the individual blue spikes?
  7. Which site(s) have blue curves with the greatest deviation from the dark red/brown curves?
  8. What causes this deviation?
  9. Which site(s) show the greatest "spikiness" in their blue curves?
  10. What causes this deviation?

Note: If you are having difficulty accessing the data and creating the graphs, please view this instructional video for section 1. The video will open in a new window, which you should resize for optimal viewing.

Directions for Section 2

Now we will look in detail at two sites - Ridley Creek and Lehigh River - in order to compare a small stream to a major river.

Return to the Surface-Water Data for the Nation web page, and this time select 6 months of data from the Ridley Creek and Lehigh River stations. Copy the hydrographs into your document and answer the second set of questions:

  1. How many rain storms or melting events do you see in the Ridley Creek data?
  2. How many rain storms or melting events do you see in the Lehigh River data?
  3. Which events are seen only in Ridley Creek (give dates)?
  4. Why are these events not seen in the Lehigh River data?
  5. How do the shapes of the individual storm hydrographs differ between the stations?
  6. Why are they different?
  7. Do you expect the Nile and its major tributaries to behave more like Ridley Creek or more like the Lehigh River?
  8. Why?

Note: If you are still having trouble accessing the information needed for Section 2, view this short instructional video for section 2 for assistance. The video will open in a new window, which you should resize for optimal viewing.

Grading criteria

Here is how the assignment will be graded.

  • Questions #1-18 will each be graded as 2, 1 or 0. Two will be given if you get the correct response. One will be given if you are partially correct. Zero will be assigned if you are completely incorrect or did not answer the question.
  • Question #19 - As for your references, I am looking for correct format in APA style. If you do not have the correct style, then I reserve the right to deduct 15 points off of your final assignment grade (once it is scaled to 100%) for inaccurate documentation. If there is an academic integrity violation, I will puruse the procedures outlined in Lesson 0.

The entire assignment is worth 36 points and will be scaled to a percentage out of 100%.

How do you find out your assignment grade?

One week after the assignment is due, the submission form will become "active" again. You need to go back into the form and click on your responses to see your score and my comments. Again, I will be recording in my gradebook your score based out of 100%.

If you have any questions...

...on this assignment, on Africa, on anything! Don't hesitate to get in touch with me via phone or email ASAP. I would not recommend waiting until the last minute to contact me, as I cannot guarantee a response before the assignment deadline.