Since the damming of the Nile, the Rhône River is the main freshwater and sediment supplier to the Mediterranean Sea, becoming an important forcing that can drive the evolution of the biogeochemistry of this marine ecosystem.
The Rhone River is 816 km long and has a drainage area of around 97,800 km2 with strong climatic and geological heterogeneity. At 47km from the sea, the river splits into two branches so-called the Grand Rhone and the petite Rhone carrying 90% and 10% of the total discharge, respectively (Ibanez et al., 1971). The Rhone River discharge takes place in the Gulf of Lions in the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea characterized by a large shelf of 12 000 Km2. (Durrieu de Madron et al., 2000), representing a wide, progressive margin with a crescent shape continental shelf (up to 70 km wide) for a volume of 9.1 1011 m3.
Freshwater loads, particulate matter and nutrients transported by the Rhone River were determined with high frequency sampling to evaluate seasonal and inter-annual variability as well as current contribution to the marine systems. The various fractions of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus (dissolved, particulate, inorganic and organic) were measured daily since March 2005, at Arles, 40 km upstream of the river mouth. A particular attention was focused on flood events, responsible for the major exports of matter towards the coastal environment.
Sampling device in the Rhône River
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