Know more

About cookies

What is a "cookie"?

A "cookie" is a piece of information, usually small and identified by a name, which may be sent to your browser by a website you are visiting. Your web browser will store it for a period of time, and send it back to the web server each time you log on again.

Different types of cookies are placed on the sites:

  • Cookies strictly necessary for the proper functioning of the site
  • Cookies deposited by third party sites to improve the interactivity of the site, to collect statistics

Learn more about cookies and how they work

The different types of cookies used on this site

Cookies strictly necessary for the site to function

These cookies allow the main services of the site to function optimally. You can technically block them using your browser settings but your experience on the site may be degraded.

Furthermore, you have the possibility of opposing the use of audience measurement tracers strictly necessary for the functioning and current administration of the website in the cookie management window accessible via the link located in the footer of the site.

Technical cookies

Name of the cookie


Shelf life

CAS and PHP session cookies

Login credentials, session security



Saving your cookie consent choices

12 months

Audience measurement cookies (AT Internet)

Name of the cookie


Shelf life


Trace the visitor's route in order to establish visit statistics.

13 months


Store the anonymous ID of the visitor who starts the first time he visits the site

13 months


Identify the numbers (unique identifiers of a site) seen by the visitor and store the visitor's identifiers.

13 months

About the AT Internet audience measurement tool :

AT Internet's audience measurement tool Analytics is deployed on this site in order to obtain information on visitors' navigation and to improve its use.

The French data protection authority (CNIL) has granted an exemption to AT Internet's Web Analytics cookie. This tool is thus exempt from the collection of the Internet user's consent with regard to the deposit of analytics cookies. However, you can refuse the deposit of these cookies via the cookie management panel.

Good to know:

  • The data collected are not cross-checked with other processing operations
  • The deposited cookie is only used to produce anonymous statistics
  • The cookie does not allow the user's navigation on other sites to be tracked.

Third party cookies to improve the interactivity of the site

This site relies on certain services provided by third parties which allow :

  • to offer interactive content;
  • improve usability and facilitate the sharing of content on social networks;
  • view videos and animated presentations directly on our website;
  • protect form entries from robots;
  • monitor the performance of the site.

These third parties will collect and use your browsing data for their own purposes.

How to accept or reject cookies

When you start browsing an eZpublish site, the appearance of the "cookies" banner allows you to accept or refuse all the cookies we use. This banner will be displayed as long as you have not made a choice, even if you are browsing on another page of the site.

You can change your choices at any time by clicking on the "Cookie Management" link.

You can manage these cookies in your browser. Here are the procedures to follow: Firefox; Chrome; Explorer; Safari; Opera

For more information about the cookies we use, you can contact INRAE's Data Protection Officer by email at or by post at :


24, chemin de Borde Rouge -Auzeville - CS52627 31326 Castanet Tolosan cedex - France

Last update: May 2021

Menu Logo Principal logo meteo france logo upv logo juelich Logo EIT LSCE CEA logo alterra Logo  TNO Logo  SUEZ

AGADAPT - Adapting the water use by the agriculture sector

Rhine River Basin Site

With a length of 1320 km and a river basin area of 185,000 km2, the Rhine is one of the larger rivers of Northwest Europe. The river basin covers parts of Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, France, Luxembourg, Germany, and the Netherlands. The main tributaries of the Rhine are the Neckar, Main, Mosel, Lahn, and Sieg (Figure 1). The river basin can be subdivided in five sections using geographical and geological features [Preusser, 2008]. The first section is the Alpine mountains where the river originates. Second is the Upper Rhine from Basel (where the flood plain is used for agriculture) up to Mainz. Several cities exist along the Rhine branch in this section. Third is the Middle Rhine between Mainz en Bonn, which is hilly. In this section, the Rhine flows through a narrow gorge. Fourth is the Lower Rhine, which is densely urbanized. From here, the flood prone area widens until it becomes a river delta in the Netherlands (fifth section) [Hooijer et al., 2004]. About 50% of the basin is used for agriculture, and 15% for urban or suburban uses. The remainder is forest and otherwise fallow lands [Wessel, 1995, Eberle et al., 2005] (Figure 1). The Rhine is extensively used for inland shipping [Jonkeren et al., 2007; CCNR, 2009] and connects one of the world’s largest seaports, Rotterdam, to the inland European markets. The river also provides water for cooling energy plants, and for industrial, domestic, and agricultural purposes [Grabs, 1997]. The Rhine basin is one of the most heavily industrialized areas in the world. It has 58 million inhabitants, of which 10.7 million live in flood prone areas that are protected by dikes [ICPR, 2001].

You can download the PDF Version here

Physical characteristics


Figure 1. Maps of the Rhine basin: a) sub-basins and major cities, b) elevation, and c) land use.


Water use

There are significant differences in the spatial variation in the functions of the Rhine catchment area (see Table 1 for the states along the main flow of the Rhine). The Rhine is Europe’s most densely navigated shipping route, connecting the world’s largest seaport, Rotterdam, with the world largest inland port, Duisburg. Vast industrial complexes are built along the river, for example the Ruhr, Main, and Rijnmond areas. Most of Europe’s important chemical production plants can be found along the Rhine.

Rhine water is used for industrial and agricultural purposes, for energy generation, for the disposal of municipal wastewater, for recreational activities, and for the production of drinking water for more than 20 million people. Furthermore, the Rhine is a natural habitat for a diversity of plant life and many birds, fish, and other species.

Obviously, so many different claims on the river inevitably lead to conflicts or problems: water quality problems, problems in river ecology, and high water problems.






Drinking water





Process water




















Fishing water















Table 1. Spatial variations in the functions of the Rhine catchment area . After Dieperink, 1997.



Because of the large economical and industrial value that is concentrated in the basin, it is very vulnerable to damage by extreme peak flows and low flows occurring in the river (e.g. Kleinn et al., 2005). The extreme stream flow drought in 2003 caused problems with inland navigation due to low water levels, and energy plants suffered from lack of cooling water due to low discharges and high water temperatures. Because of global warming such problems are expected to increase (IPCC, 2014).

The International Commission for the protection of the Rhine (ICPR) has decided about its themes for the next years at its Conference of Ministers in October 2013. The major fields of future action are: micro-pollutants, river continuity for fish migration, flood protection and adaptation to climate change. The latter also includes phases of low water discharge when air and water temperatures are high, which, for ecological reasons, is critical for water quality, navigation and cooling water purposes.


Contacted stakeholders

Bram Vreugdenhil (province Gelderland, NL) on the Agadapt tool on agricultural risks and water use.

To have farmers fill in their information on the web, they have to get something in return. The information about future yield of crops can be such an asset, especially when this is linked to market prices. E.g. if many farmers in an area cultivate the same crop, the price will become low. There is a growing interest of farmers for the effects of climate change, but only farmers that are starting up and/or have to decide about larger investments will have a look at time-periods of longer than 5 years. The list should be extended to include varieties of the different crops, as these can be substantially different in their water demand and evapotranspiration. The graph in the example seems to be quite complex, the information that should be given as output should be discussed with farmers and/or famers organisations.


CCNR, 2009. Market observation for inland navigation in Europe. Technical report, Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine and European Commission Directorate-General for Energy and Transport, Strasbourg, France.

Dieperink, C. 1997. International Regime Development: Lessons from the Rhine Catchment Area. TDRI Quarterly Review, No. 12, pp. 27–35.


Eberle M., Buiteveld H., Wilke K. & Krahe P. Hydrological modelling in the river Rhine basin, Part III – daily HBV model for the Rhine basin. BfG-1451, Institute for Inland Water Management and Waste Water Treatment (RIZA) and Bundesanstalt für Gewässerkunde (BfG), Koblenz, Germany.

Grabs, 1997. Impact of climate change on hydrological regimes and water resource management in the Rhine basin. Technical Report I-16, CHR, Lelystad, the Netherlands

Hooijer, A., Klijn, F., Pedroli, G.B.M., and Van Os, A.G., 2004. Towards sustainable flood risk management in the Rhine and Meuse basins: synopsis of the findings of IRMA-SPONGE. River Research and Applications, 20:343–357.

ICPR (2001). Atlas 2001. Atlas of flood danger and potential damage due to extreme floods of the Rhine. Technical report, International Commission on the Protection of the Rhine. Koblenz, Germany.
IPCC Working Group II, 2014. Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability.

Jonkeren, O., Rietveld, P., and van Ommeren, J. (2007). Climate change and inland waterway transport - Welfare effects of low water levels on the River Rhine. Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, 41:387–411.

Kleinn, J., C. Frei, J. Gurtz, D. L¨uthi, P. L. Vidale, and C. Sch¨ar (2005),Hydrologic simulations in the Rhine basin driven by a regional climate model, J. Geophys. Res., 110, D04102, doi:10.1029/2004JD005143.

Preusser, 2008. Characterisation and evolution of the river Rhine system. Netherlands Journal of Geosciences, 51(1):7–19.

Wessel, 1995. Flood management of the transnational Rhine river. In U.S.– Italy Research Workshop on the Hydrometeorology, Impacts, and Management of Extreme Floods, 13–17 November 1995, Perugia, Italy.

PDF version

Read more