The River Science section focuses on the biophysical environment of the Nile River basin - land, waterbodies, rainfall, and temperature - and how living things interact with their environment. The physical environment and the living things within it form the dynamic, interlinked system that is the Nile basin. This system experiences changes as a result of seasonal variations while responding to longer-term trends.  These changes are spatially distributed, due to variation in climate, landscape and human activity. Understanding the living and non-living components of the environment and how they are linked is important for protecting natural resources and the life they support. This can lead to greater awareness of human impacts on the Nile River basin, and a more integrated approach towards basin management.

The foundation of River Science is built on two key concepts. Firstly, the complexity of the linkages between the different components of the environment that shapes the physical and biological characteristics of the River Nile. Secondly, how physical and biological components of the environment vary over space and over time - sometimes in predictable patterns, sometimes in unexpected ways - leading to environmental diversity.

After completing the chapters within the River Science theme, it is hoped that users will understand the following concepts:

  • The geography of the Nile basin is varied and complex, shaped by a long geological history. The modern configuration of the river can be divided into four main parts; the White Nile; the Blue Nile; the Nile River; and the Lower Nile and Delta.
  • Climate has a significant impact on the biophysical environment of the Nile basin. The size and location of the basin determine the regional and seasonal variations in the climate of the basin, which have a direct impact on the flow in the different parts of the Nile basin.
  • The hydrological cycle and the geography of the Nile basin greatly impact the flows and ultimately the availability of water throughout the basin. Human activities such as dam building and irrigation have a significant impact on the flows of the Nile River.
  • The physical and chemical characteristics of a river determine the ability of a river system to sustain life, factors are closely related to environmental characteristics of the river basin, such as climate, topography, erosion, and vegetation. While the balance of physical and chemical characteristics both enables and benefits from aquatic life, human activities can have a marked effect on these parameters.
  • The ecology and biodiversity supported by a river system are closely related to the overall health of the ecosystem and the degree to which land is degraded and mismanaged. Ecosystems, such as wetlands can have provide many goods and services to human and other populations, but are very sensitive to natural changes and human influences.