Weeks 27 & 28 - Humans Depend on Water Supply and Quality


Fresh and Salt Water Systems






What do all of these images have in common?
All are linked to water. Let's take a look .

Photograph (a). These sandstone forms were caused by the erosion of ocean waves and tides.

Photograph (b). The scratches in these rocks were caused by the erosion of moving masses of frozen water called glaciers.

Photograph (c). The Saskatchewan Glacier is an example of a river of ice. The glacier not only erodes the land but melting glaciers release large volumes of fresh water into river systems around the world.

Photograph (d). Sea lions are mammals adapted to life in the salt water of the world's oceans.

Photograph (e). Sea stars and many other invertebrates live in the nutrient rich intertidal zone. The intertidal zone is the boundary between the ocean and the land.

Photograph (f) This fish and insect larva are adapted to life in fresh water ecosystems.

Photograph (g) This tanker is spilling millions of litres of crude oil into the ocean. Birds, fish, mammals, and invertebrates will be killed by this toxic mixture.

Photograph (h). This is a photograph of the Earth from space. Many have called Earth the "blue-planet" because almost two-thirds of its surface are covered by fresh and saltwater. Human activities have and continue to impact on this life sustaining liquid.

In this unit, you will explore the distribution of fresh water and salt water ecosystems on the Earth. You will describe the processes of erosion and deposition resulting from wave action and water flow. You will investigate the distribution and health of living organisms in aquatic environments. Finally, you will analyze human impacts on aquatic ecosystems.

© 2002 Alberta Online Consortium

Lesson 1

Lesson 1: The Earth - The Water Planet

Seen from space you can tell that Earth is a water planet. Without this water, life as we know it wouldn't exist. The most extra ordinary thing about this water is that large amounts of it are in liquid form - a very rare thing in our universe.

In this lesson we are going to examine the distribution and characteristics of this water. We will first get an overview of the world's water and then look closer to home to see how water is distributed in Alberta.
The Worldwide Distribution of Water

Let's examine the Earth from an alien's point of view. Upon arriving in orbit you begin to examine the Earth's features. What can we see about the Earth from this vantage point?

Watch this video to get some inspiration about "using less" of our Earth's resources.

Exercise 1.1: The Water Planet


Would you like to know more?
Check out this web site.

Alberta's Water Supply
The Rocky mountains store large amounts of water in the form of snow and ice and slowly release it over the spring and summer months into our streams and rivers.

Higher up in the mountains, huge glaciers store hundreds of years of precipitation. During the warm months of summer some of the ice melts and keeps our mountain rivers flowing.
Here is some great information about glacier features and landforms.

Water flows down hill. That sounds simple enough but on a continental perspective it gets a little more complicated. Water collects first in streams then small rivers and then into larger ones. But where do they go? All the major rivers flow to the oceans. The overall area of land that drains into a large river heading for the ocean is called a drainage basin. Examine the map of the drainage basins of Canada.

Let's take a look at Alberta's 17 River Drainage Basins.

Retreived from: http://www3.gov.ab.ca/env/water/GWSW/quantity/learn/What/HC_HydroCycle/HC_PDF/HC3_riverbasins.pdf

(link no longer active)

These are the 7 major river basins in Alberta.

Retreived from: http://www3.gov.ab.ca/env/water/GWSW/quantity/learn/What/HC_HydroCycle/HC_PDF/HC3_7majorbasins.pdf

(link no longer active)


Many people in Alberta must rely on groundwater. If you don't live in a city or town, chances are you have a well which provides the water you need for your house, farm or business.

In the past, hand pumps were used to draw the water up out of the ground. Today, most wells have electric pumps.

© 2002 Alberta Online Consortium