A Geography of Spain and Portugal

A Geography of Spain and Portugal

A Geography of Spain and Portugal

A Geography of Spain and Portugal

Excerpt

THE LONGER ATLANTIC coastline of Iberia and the slight tilting of surface to the west ensure that the majority of the precipitation falling on the peninsula is eventually returned to the Atlantic Ocean, whence it came. The rivers which form the terrestrial component of this climatic cycle show a wide diversity of type. Very few Iberian rivers have a typically graded 'thalweg', or valley profile. In the north and west the upper or torrent type of course is characteristic, the rivers flowing down a steep gradient to the sea. They are perennially fed by abundant precipitation, their powers of vertical corrasion are great, and their valleys thus present a steeply sloping V-shaped appearance, which continues for most of their course until they reach a drowned estuary, or ria. Shorter and swifter streams predominate in Asturias; in Galicia rivers are generally longer and slightly less rapid in flow.

The river Miño is the largest of these Galician rivers; it starts in Lake Fuenmiña at the foot of the Sierra de Meiro. It is 212 miles long and drains an area of approximately 6,866 square miles. Its importance lies in the fact that it annually discharges 7,700 million cubic metres of water, a total exceeding that of the Ebro, Guadalquiver, Guadiana, Tagus or Douro, although these rivers have greater lengths and catchment areas. The explanation lies in the climatic differences between the perennially wet north-west region and the seasonally arid central and southern regions of the peninsula.

On the Mesetas occur old well-established rivers. Flowing along courses delineated during Alpine orogenesis, the rivers Douro, Tagus and Guadiana traverse the and Meseta and lower coastal plains until they reach the Atlantic in wide estuaries. All negotiate . . .

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