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Books Year : 2021

The Seine River Basin

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Pierre Labadie
Nicolas Flipo


Among the six hydrographic basins of metropolitan France, the Seine-Normandy basin is the most human-impacted. This territory of 76,000 km 2 and 17 million people receives the highest anthropogenic pressure, due to its industrial and agri- cultural activities linked to the development of the urban area of Paris, which has been and still is the economic and social heart of France. These pressures have gradually impacted the hydrological, chemical, and ecological functioning of the basin, leading to a maximum chemical degradation between the 1960s and the 1990s. The very poor chemical and ecological status of water bodies in the 1980s led a small group of researchers to propose a PIREN-Seine, i.e. an interdisciplinary environmental research program created by the French National Centre for Scien- tific Research (CNRS). This program was launched in 1989 in the context of insufficient wastewater treatment in the Paris conurbation. Its first achievement consisted in developing models to better understand the river hydrological and biogeochemical functioning. These tools have made it possible to bring together research teams on a common object of study, the whole Seine watershed; the program has also been a forum for dialogue between the basin ’ s institutional partners and researchers, enabling the latter to make management proposals to establish investment priorities based on the results of these models. Over the past 30 years, the PIREN-Seine program has grown up, has attracted social scientists, and has generated a vast number of disciplinary and interdisci- plinary publications, more than 100 PhD theses, hundreds of publications in scientific journals, and as many communications in international workshops and conferences. Nevertheless, the collective visibility of this group of scientists and institutional partners is still relatively low internationally, since most publication credits are given to individuals, to their laboratories, or to their research institutions. Moreover, the names of these laboratories and institutions have also evolved over time, making the recognition of this collective effort even more difficult. This book is the opportunity to present the most salient or recent results of the program, presented here as trajectories that relate environmental changes, societal changes, and the state of the Seine River basin waterbodies, which is nowadays largely controlled by the balance between pressures, water and river uses, and social responses. The book covers a broad range of topics such as (1) the estimation of fluxes transported from headwaters to the coastal zone, at a very fine spatial scale, using models, (2) long-term analyses (50–200 years) of the socio-ecosystem Seine, using archives, retro and prospective modeling, (3) the identification and quantification of sources and transfer of a wide variety of elements and pollutants (nutrients, carbon, trace metals, POPs, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, microplastics, etc.), (4) the study of microbial contaminations, and (5) the analysis of the impact of water quality and contaminations on biota. Studies considering the Seine River basin as a socio-ecological system are increasingly present within the PIREN-Seine program, which has been included in the Zone Atelier Seine (ZA Seine). The latter coordinates the research activities on the Paris city, the Seine River basin, and the Seine River estuary. It is also part of the European Long-Term Socio-Economic and Ecosystem Research (LTSER) pro- grams. The large size of the basin and the longue-dure´e approach (up to 200 years) make this territory a rare and fully documented example of the multiple and evolving interrelations between a river, its large basin and their society which characterize the Anthropocene era.
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Dates and versions

hal-03827575 , version 1 (24-10-2022)



Nicolas Flipo (Dir.). The Seine River Basin. Springer, 90, 2021, The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry, 978-3-030-54259-7. ⟨10.1007/978-3-030-54260-3⟩. ⟨hal-03827575⟩
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