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Coupled ecological and socio-economic modelling in the Rhone river basin . A socio-economic subproject to EROS 2000, phase 2


The objective of the project is to build a coupled socio-economic and ecological dynamic model of the Rhone river basin and the Gulf of Lions in order to examine the risk of eutrophication in the river basin and in the Gulf of Lions, and to test the effectiveness of public policy options for sustainable development over the long term.

The major work in this project is the adaptation and coupling of several existing models to the particular situation of the Rhone river basin and the Gulf of Lions. The time scale we target is 30 to 40 years, i.e. the time scale required for the achievement of new water policies but also a time scale where climatic or demographic changes may become significant. Of course, it may appear unrealistic to simulate human development in a region by using a deterministic model. We consider that a major outcome of such model integration is to produce coherent scenarii for the future under well defined hypothesis. Therefore, it should be considered as an analytical tool rather than a prediction tool.

The models are the AQUAPHY biological model by Lancelot and Billen (1990), which will be first adapted to the North-Western Mediterranean sea using data issued from the FRONTAL programme in the Ligurian sea and a simplified one-dimensional model. In a second step, outputs from a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model of the Gulf of Lions currently under development at LODYC (University Paris 6) will be used, in connection with data base constituted during both first phases of the EROS 2000 project.

The river basin model is based on distributed economics such as the SENEGAL model and the Scheldt model (SANGLIER and ALLEN, 1989). Major economic variables to be simulated are the agricultural population and production, overall population and urban densification, and industrial activity in major activity classes. Hypothesis on worldwide and european economic development as well as climate change are also inputs to this model. Moreover, the basin model includes a pollutant transfer model.

The sociological aspect of the work will not be achieved through the development of a deterministic model, which is totally unrealistic. However, the presentation of the results will constantly accompany the model development; this is considered as major part of the project development. The closure of the loop, i.e. the analysis of the influence of the biogeochemical state of relevant water bodies (some rivers in the basin and the Gulf of Lions) on social actors (decision makers and public representatives), will not be achieved by a model, but through the analysis of their responses to our presentations.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées
La Courtine
93167 Noisy-le-grand

Participants (2)

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
1 Rue Maurice Arnoux
92120 Montrouge
Cranfield University
United Kingdom
MK43 0AL Bedford