CONTINENTAL WATERS: What are they, Characteristics and Importance

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As we know, the life and survival of the human species has always developed around water. For this reason, having inland water sources to cover the different daily needs was always of vital importance for human beings.

Said continental waters have different origins and characteristics, appearing both in surface continental water reserves of lakes and rivers, and in underground continental waters.

In this interesting article by Ecologist Verde you will learn about the continental waters: what are they, characteristics and importance; as well as some data about the worrying contamination of continental waters that occurs year after year in different regions of the planet, mainly due to irresponsible anthropic actions.

What are inland waters

The continental waters are all those masses of liquid water found in continental regions of the planet. Generally, continental waters are made up of sweet water and its presence in the biosphere is constant.

The origin of continental waters is diverse, forming sometimes as a consequence of precipitations in the form of rain, hail or snow; or due to the presence and outcrop of groundwater.

In the next sections of this article we will delve into the characteristics, types and importance of continental waters to better understand these highlights aquatic ecosystems.

Characteristics of continental waters

To know in more detail what the surface waters of the planetLet's see some of its most outstanding features:

  • The fresh water bodies that constitute continental waters are usually located in regions far from coastal areas, giving rise to inland water formations.
  • The presence of these waters is conditioned to the properties and conditions of phenomena such as floods, rains, snowfalls and river overflows or sea level rises; since these phenomena are responsible for supplying continental waters with a certain volume of water.
  • Inland waters can exist permanently, seasonally, or even intermittently.
  • On many occasions, continental waters suffer contamination, either naturally (through phenomena such as eutrophication or super accumulation of nutrients and organisms); or, on the contrary, in an anthropic way, due to the discharge of both polluted wastewater and water with toxic substances of industrial, mining or agricultural origin, in which highly polluting chemical fertilizers and phytosanitary products are deposited.

Types of inland waters

Of the total precipitation water (in the form of rain, snow or hail), a part circulates and accumulates on the earth's surface (giving rise to surface continental waters), another part infiltrates through rocks and porous materials (constituting continental groundwater); and a third of said precipitation evaporates and returns to the atmosphere again.

In this way, within these two large groups, the different types of inland waters that exist are:

Inland surface waters

  • Streams and streams.
  • Rivers.
  • Lakes and lagoons (both fresh and salt water).
  • Reservoirs and swamps.
  • Inland saline systems (inland seas).
  • Wetlands and streams.
  • Flood plains.
  • Albufera (formed by the water of the high tides in beach areas and low coasts).
  • Chotts or salty lakes of semi-arid regions (salty lakes of different sizes that are formed from rainwater that remains stagnant, disappearing quickly when the rain ceases and having high temperatures, thus leaving layers of salt in the place where it was formed the water basin).
  • Polar waters and glaciers.

Inland groundwater

  • Aquifers.
  • Springs and groundwater sources for human supply in urban areas.

Importance of continental waters

Continental waters are of great importance, as much as essential natural resource for the survival of many species of animals and plants and for their ecological value in the proper functioning of the Earth as a global ecosystem.

On the other hand, focusing only and exclusively on the anthropogenic field, continental waters are of great value for the day-to-day life of human beings. While inland surface waters are used for purposes related to the irrigation of crops, livestock, recreation and leisure, as well as hydroelectricity and some other industrial functions; continental groundwater is used mainly for human consumption.

Throughout history, the different civilizations of human beings that have been populating every corner of the planet, built their urban centers in areas close to aquifer geological formations, from which you can obtain quality continental groundwater to drink and use in your day-to-day life.

At present, bottled water comes from these underground continental waters, which, coming from springs and aquifers, have an optimal quality for human consumption.

In this other post we talk about Why rivers and lakes are important.

If you want to read more articles similar to Inland waters: what are they, characteristics and importance, we recommend that you enter our Ecosystems category.

  • Guerrero, R. & Piola, A. (1997) Water bodies on the Argentine Continental Shelf. Magazine the Argentine sea and its fishing resources. Volume 1, pp: 107-118.
  • Quirós, R. (2000) Eutrophication of the continental waters of Argentina. Ibero-American Cooperation Program on Science and Technology for Development (CYTED), pp: 3-8.
  • Ramírez, A., Restrepo, R. & Viña, G. (1997) Four pollution indices for characterization of continental waters. Formulations and application. Instituto Colombiano del Petróleo, C.T.F, volume 1 (3), pp: 2-7.
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