Modelling eutrophication of the Seine Bight under present, historical and future Seine river nutrient loads

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsCugier, P, Billen, G, Guillaud, J-F, Garnier, J, Ménesguen, A
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Start Page381
Date Published03/2005
Mots-cléseutrophication, nitrogen, phosphorus, seine bight, Seine river, silica

Because of the occurrence of episodic blooms of toxic dinoflagellates, eutrophication of the Seine Bight is a subject of growing concern. In order to better understand the relationships between these processes and human activity in the Seine watershed, two models have been used in connection:

  • A model describing nutrient (N, P, Si) transfer processes at the scale of the whole Seine Basin (RIVERSTRAHLER [Billen, G., Garnier, J., Ficht, A., Cun, C., 2001. Modelling the response of water quality in the Seine River Estuary in response to human activity in the watershed over the last 50 years. Estuaries 24, 977–993]), allowing human activity (agricultural practices, waterscape management, urban wastewater management, etc.) to be related to fluxes delivered to the sea.
  • A model of 3D hydrodynamic and ecological model of the Seine Bight (SiAM-3D/ELISE [Cugier, P., 1999. Modélisation du devenir à moyen terme dans l’eau et le sédiment des éléments majeurs (N, P, Si, O) rejetés par la Seine en baie de Seine. Thèse de doctorat, Univ. de Caen, p. 241; Cugier, P., Le Hir, P., 2000. Modélisation 3D des matières en suspension en baie de Seine Orientale (Manche, France). C. R. Acad. Sci. Paris, Sciences de la Terre et des planétes 331, 287–294]), capable of reproducing the spatio-temporal variations of sediment transport, thermo-haline stratification and phytoplanktonic development in the plume of the Seine river.

The models are validated by their ability to reproduce observed trends of interannual variations of nutrients delivered by the Seine during the last 50 years, as well as the response of the marine system in terms of diatoms and dinoflagellate development, for which data are available from 1976 to 1984 for the former and from 1987 to 1997 for the latter. The results show clearly that dry years, where silica inputs show a deficit with respect to nitrogen and phosphorus, are those where summer blooms of dinoflagellates are particularly pronounced.

Various scenarios of human activity in the watershed are simulated by the two models, including a reconstitution of the ‘pristine’ state, a historical state corresponding to the situation at the end of the 18th century, as well as several scenarios corresponding to the present situation with alternative policies of wastewater nitrogen and/or phosphorus treatment.