A mathematical model based on the ecological and biogeochemical functioning of large drainage networks will be developed to study the relationship between nutrient levels and fluxes in response to hydraulic and land management in the watershed. The model will be tested on a number of European river systems representative of European climatic conditions.
During their transfer from land to sea, nutrients are involved in very active processes which lead to their transformation, immobilisation or elimination. However, human management has resulted in a considerable reduction of riparian interactions altering the retention capacity of the river systems. This is the main cause of the increase of nutrient contamination and coastal eutrophication problems.
The project will therefore focus on the development of a coupled hydrological-ecological mathematical model which will take into account the role of hydrological annexes and riparian zones in the overall functioning of river systems. The model will be adapted to seven river systems in Europe (Exe, Severn, Aliakmon, Seine, Loire, Scheld, Rhine), differing by their hydrological regime, the size of their basin area, the degree of management and land use in the watershed.
For each river system a data base specifically adapted to the structure of the model will be constituted with both published data or data gathered in the course of the project. Field and laboratory experiments will be carried out on ecological processes in order to increase the validity of the model in view of its ability to reproduce the present situation in the different river systems. Then the model will be used to test the effects of previous human impacts (including hydraulic management, land use changes, urban development) on the ecological functioning and nutrient transport. This retrospective use of the model will help to define scenarios of future management of the hydrological landscape.
The approach proposed in this project will contribute to the scientific basis for a European policy of integrated river management aiming at improving the water quality of surface waters and of coastal zones.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
3720 BA Bilthoven
EX4 4QJ Exeter