Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I love the words stream and streaming - I always feel like I'm flying when I say them. I love the way a stream cuts through a landscape within a narrow channel and bank, defined and deceptively confined, but quite impossible to discipline or stop - its sole mission to join the ocean.

Although stream and streaming have taken on a whole new meaning in this age of the internet, I've always wanted to know the difference between the actual streams, brooks, rivers, etc. I encounter on my jaunts. So I went on another search and find and found a scientific order to the whole thing. It's all pretty interesting but also a bit disconcerting because I will probably go through a phase where I try to figure out which order every stream I come across belongs to. Hopefully, and as it should probably be, the whole thing will become utterly frustrating and I will leave it to the pros so that I might remember to simply enjoy the blasted stream.

1. Streams are sometimes called a brook, creek, bayou or burn.

2. Streams are classified from a first order stream to a 12th order stream. Classifying stream size is important to geographers, geologists, hydrologists and other scientists. It gives them an idea of the size and strength of specific waterways within stream networks- an important component to water management. Classifying stream order allows scientists to more easily study the amount of sediment in an area and more effectively use waterways as natural resources. It also helps biogeographers and biologists to determine what types of life are in that waterway.

3. A first order stream is the smallest and consists of small tributaries. These streams flow into and "feed" larger streams but do not normally have any water flowing into them. First (and second) order streams generally form on steep slopes and flow quickly until they slow down and meet the next order waterway.

4. First through third order streams are called headwater streams and are any waterways in the upper reaches of the watershed. 80% of the world’s waterways are considered headwater streams.

5. Fourth through sixth order are medium streams

6. Seven through 12th order streams are considered rivers. Unlike the smaller order streams, these medium and large rivers are usually less steep and flow slower.

7. Two first order streams that join together form a second order stream, two second order streams combined form a third order stream, and two third order streams joined form a fourth, etc.

8. If two streams of different orders join, neither increases in order. So if a second order stream joins a third order stream, the second order stream simply ends by flowing its contents into the third order stream, which then maintains its place in the hierarchy.

Streams • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200

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