Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 329–339 | Cite as

Long-term biogeochemical functioning of the Red River (Vietnam): past and present situations

  • Thi Phuong Quynh LeEmail author
  • Gilles Billen
  • Josette Garnier
  • Van Minh Chau
Original Article


The Red River (North Vietnam) is a typical example of a subtropical Asian river system undergoing high human pressure. During the last 50 years, major changes have occurred in its watershed, extending over an area of 156,450 km2 in Vietnam and China. We provide a detailed account of these changes, related to intensification of agriculture, deforestation, increase in population and urbanization, impoundment of reservoirs, etc. This information is used in a modeling approach of the nutrient transfers and transformations along the river system, in order to evaluate the changes in water quality of the Red River and its potential for coastal eutrophication. We conclude that the combination of increased nitrogen release from agriculture and retention of phosphorus in the reservoirs has considerably changed the balance of nutrients delivered at the outlet of the river, bringing the system close to a turning point in its nutrient biogeochemistry and its potential for coastal eutrophication. The upcoming impoundment of four new major dams in the watershed makes this conclusion particularly relevant.


Nutrient Modeling Long-term period Eutrophication Red River Vietnam 



This work was conducted within the framework of the AUF action 2092 RR 823-923, the NAFOSTED, the NAFOSTED 105.09-2012.10 the IFS W4210-2, and the ARCP2013_06CMY_Quynh projects. The authors would like to thank the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), Vietnam’s National Foundation for Science and Technology Development (NAFOSTED), the International Foundation for Science, the Asia–Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their financial support.

Supplementary material

10113_2014_646_MOESM1_ESM.doc (5.8 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 5982 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thi Phuong Quynh Le
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gilles Billen
    • 2
  • Josette Garnier
    • 2
  • Van Minh Chau
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Natural Product ChemistryVietnam Academy of Science and TechnologyHanoiVietnam
  2. 2.CNRS and University of Paris VIParisFrance
  3. 3.Institute of Marine BiochemistryVietnam Academy of Science and TechnologyHanoiVietnam

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