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Last updated:

May 19, 2022


Unlimited Duration


This course includes:

Unlimited Duration

Badge on Completion

Certificate of completion

Unlimited Duration


Water is arguably the most important physical resource as it is the one that is essential to human survival.

Understanding the global water cycle and how we use water is essential to planning a sustainable source of water for the future. In the UK there are areas where water supplies are limited, as shown by recent droughts. Globally, there are many areas that do not have enough water to support the current population adequately. Decisions will have to be made on the best way to use water in a world that's experiencing climate change. This free course, Surface water, helps you examine the options.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • List the types of springs, and how each type relates to a different geological setting
  • Use hydrographs to distinguish overland flow and interflow from baseflow, and make inferences about the climate of an area
  • Expain how various changes in land use in a river catchment will change the hydrograph of a river
  • Distinguish the different types of reservoir construction, and decide whether a particular area would be suitable for a reservoir, suggest the most suitable type of dam for a site, and summarise the side effects of constructing reservoirs.

Course Curriculum

  • Introduction 00:05:00
  • Learning outcomes 00:07:00
  • Springs 00:15:00
  • River flow 01:00:00
    • Introduction 00:25:00
    • Sites for reservoirs 00:20:00
    • Dams 00:25:00
    • Environmental effects of reservoir construction 00:07:00
    • Land use 00:07:00
    • Ecological changes 00:05:00
    • Dam failure 00:05:00
    • Sediment filling 00:10:00
    • Sediment loss to agriculture 00:05:00
    • Soil salinization 00:05:00
    • Induced earthquakes 00:20:00
    • Big dams in the future? 00:15:00
    • Conclusion 00:15:00

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Open University UK