SENEQUE: A multi-scaling GIS interface to the Riverstrahler model of the biogeochemical functioning of river systems

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsRuelland, D, Billen, G, Brunstein, D, Garnier, J
JournalThe Science of the Total Environment
Start Page257
Date Published04/2007
Mots-clésGIS, modeling software, Riverstrahler, SENEQUE, spatial scaling, water resources management

The Riverstrahler model describes the biogeochemical functioning of an entire river system, from 100 to 100,000 km2 or more, taking into account the constraints set by the morphology of the drainage network, the meteorological/hydrological conditions, and the inputs of material from point and non-point sources in the watershed. This tool has been applied for research purpose to several river systems differing in terms of hydrological regime and anthropogenic influences.

In order to improve its capabilities and its generic dimension, as well as to develop a user-friendly interface allowing its transfer to non-specialist users including managers, the model has been coupled to a GIS interface. This gives the user the possibility to visualize the available geospatial database, to select the best geographical representation of the drainage network, to automatically prepare the corresponding input files required for the model, to pilot the model calculation and to visualize the results. The coupling with a GIS interface has considerably improved the capabilities of the Riverstrahler model. The code of the model is now entirely generic and can be run on any river system for which a suitable database is available. Its spatial resolution can be adapted to the requirement of the relevant problem, from the highest level, where each elementary watershed is individualized, to the lower level, where the whole basin is idealized as one basin with tributaries of each order having the same characteristics.

As an illustration of the new potentialities offered by the coupling of Riverstrahler with a GIS through the SENEQUE interface, the results of a same modeling scenario are compared at different spatial resolutions. For the first time, with on-line coupling to a geodatabase, the effect of increasing the spatial resolution of the drainage network representation on the performance of the Riverstrahler model has been examined. At the outlet of the basin, the water quality results were found invariant to a large degree, whatever the details of its representation in the calculations. This result justifies the use of a low resolution representation of the upstream watershed when results are required only at the outlet of the basin.