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Mississippi River (Research Paper Sample)


Class: Ecology of Iowa Topic: Mississippi River

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Class Ecology of Iowa
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is considered to be the most extensive drainage system in Northern America. It is estimated that the Mississippi River is roughly more than three thousand kilometers meandering to the Gulf of Mexico at the Mississippi River Delta. Surveys have indicated that the Mississippi River has diverse tributaries with the watershed extending to thirty one states within the United States. Statistics compiled on the global rating indicated that the Mississippi River is the tenth largest river internationally and fourth longest river internationally. Mississippi River borders State of Iowa, State of Minnesota, State of Wisconsin, State of Missouri, State of Arkansas, State of Louisiana, State of Mississippi, State of Tennessee, State of Illinois and State of Kentucky.
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The Mississippi River is a major river source in the United States considering habitat, size and biological productivity (Holland 17). The source of The Mississippi River is Lake Itasca heading to the Gulf of Mexico (Plazak 61). A combination of Missouri-Mississippi Rivers is ranked at the fourth position; following Nile River in Africa, Amazon River and the Yangtze River. Surveys have indicated that the length of a river changes with the erosion and deposits as the river meanders, approaches a delta or if the river is cut off. Measurements may differ depending on the time when the measurements were taken.
 HYPERLINK "/" The length of the Mississippi River has been contentious depending on when the measurements were taken. Itasca State Park argues that the Mississippi River is roughly 2,552 miles; United States Geologic Survey indicated that the Mississippi River is 2,300 miles and surveys conducted by the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area argued that the Mississippi River is 2,350 miles long. Mississippi River at Itasca Lake is estimated to be twenty and fifty feet wide, which is part of the narrowest stretch of the whole river.
Widest part of the Mississippi River is at Lake Winnibigoshish Lake at Bena, where it stretches for eleven miles. At Lake Pepin, Mississippi River is two miles wide and it’s the widest navigable part of the river. The average speed of the river varies with regions, but it is estimated to stand at one point two miles per hour. Surveys conducted in New Orleans indicated that the Mississippi River flows at three miles per hour.
The Mississippi River watershed is considered to be one of the largest internationally, taking position four. The Mississippi River watershed extends from Rocky Mountains in the West to Allegheny Mountains in the East. The Mississippi River watershed is estimated to be one point two million square miles taking approximately forty percent of the forty eight states in the lower part of the United States.
Communities in the United States use water from the Mississippi River for various reasons (Holland 200); Mississippi River supply many states in the United States with clean drinking water. Water from the Mississippi River is also used in discharging municipal and industrial waste, it is estimated that Mississippi River supports a significant percentage of the ecology within the United States (Holland 172). More than fifty cities in the United States directly rely on the Mississippi River for the daily water supply.
The Mississippi River has supported agriculture in the United States, dating back to more than two hundred years, particularly in the Mississippi basin (Plazak 101). The Mississippi River has been influential in the energy budget and hydrologic cycle of the regions where Mississippi River has bordered. The river supports huge agricultural products; the agribusiness industry supports more than ninety two percent of the agricultural exports in the United States. United States produces soybeans, feed grains, hogs and livestock, mainly supported by water from the Mississippi River.
Mississippi River also supports the transport system within the United States, Port of South Louisiana and Port of New Orleans are used as the entry and exit points for products. Grains produced in the Mississippi basin are exported through the Mississippi River to the target markets (Plazak 60). Mississippi River in the United States is considered critical, reflecting on the national trade. Common products shipped through Mississippi River are grains, livestock, petroleum products, petroleum, steel, iron, paper, rubber, wood, chemicals, coffee and edible oils among others.
The Mississippi River is divided into four distinct physical sections basing on its characteristics; there are the Mississippi River headwaters, Mississippi River upper reach, the middle section of the Mississippi River and the lower part of the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River headwaters is the section starting from the source to St. Paul, Minn. In this section, the Mississippi River is fresh and clear winding its way to the lower parts of the United States, the section is dotted with marshes and lakes (Holland 149).
The upper part of the Mississippi River is from St. Paul to Missouri River at St. Louis, Mo. Mississippi River at this section flows past limestone bluffs that are stiff. Water from tributaries add to the amount of water in the river, the tributaries are Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. Mississippi River at this section has influenced the Algonquin-speaking Indians who at one time named Mississippi River as the ‘Fathers of Waters’. In fact the word Mississippi originated from the Algonquin-speaking Indians, where misi signified big while sipi signaled water.
The middle part of the Mississippi River extends to the Ohio River’s mouth. This section of the Mississippi River is cloudy, muddy, turbulent and with flotsam; particularly in times of flooding where an enormous amount of silt deposits in the region is evident (Holland 63). The lower part of the Mississippi River extends from where the Mississippi River meets Ohio River. Confluence of the two rivers result in doubling the size of the Mississippi River. Statistics indicated that measurements taken from bank to bank showed that Mississippi River at the lower section is one and a half miles.
Lower section of the Mississippi River shows a lazy river and a brown river extending to the Gulf of Mexico. Geographers argues that the lower section of the Mississippi River is a perfect example of meandering alluvial river where the river curls and loops in the floodplains. Mississippi River at the lower section has formed oxbow lakes, cutoffs, meander scars and swampy backwaters among other geographical features (Holland 176). Many researchers have shown interest with the Mississippi River, namely; Mark Twain, Oscar Hammerstein and Horace Bixby among others. Mark Twain is one of those renowned researchers; he p...
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