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Natural and man-made risks

2007-2014 research work

The Rhine Rift  is prone to various natural and anthropogenic risks, which can generate major progressive or abrupt environmental changes. These risks are firstly related to the tectonic context, to the geo-morphological and specific hydro-climatic circumstances and also to the population density and to human activities.

The great variety of natural and industrial hazards including the transport of dangerous materials, the high degree of vulnerability in some urban areas and past major disasters show the real nature of the risks  : Basel, 1356 ; Sandoz, 1986 ; floods of the river Ill and several rivers in the Vosges in January 1990 ; flood of  river Thur in February 2000, mudslides in Boltzheim in June 2003 and in Wickersheim in June 2006.

The field of natural and anthropogenic hazards is as yet a little discussed subject among pluridisciplinary teams. Here, the scientific challenge is to capitalize and strengthen the contributions of various scientific disciplines such as geosciences, chemistry, biology, medicine, economy, engineering and spatial analysis.

These contributions include general knowledge, the development of observation methods, experimentation and modelling methods supporting scenarios assessment.

To meet this goal, research activities include two key areas :

1) Air pollution-related health risks

requiring a better air quality assessment, and greater knowledge of the impacts on human health.

This research sets out to design new complementary air quality assessment tools :

  • modelling programme for pollutants concentration in urban areas,
  • transportable experimental model for formaldehyde concentration measuring through spectrophotometric method after selective derivation,
  • methods for analysing trace organic pollutants by HPLC-MS, bioindicators (plants and microorganisms) by exposure to controlled atmospheres.

2)  Hydrological, hydrogeological and extreme rainfall related risks (floods, mudslides, sewage systems dysfunction) : this involves developing experimentations and numerical models in order to simulate and predict the propagation of urban floods, and to make appropriate choices in the event of crisis, according to well-defined and quantifiable objectives optimizing collecting systems for urban wastewater treatment. The GEPEMU project (Management of extreme rainfall events in urban environments and the resulting wastewater treatment) is part of the “Hydrology and hydraulics in urban environments” national research programme (HY2VILLE)

This also implies taking into account the evolutions and analysing the sustainability of the proposed solutions, their interest and their social acceptability, and the economic or regulatory tools underpinning.

The different scientific teams involved in the section n° 2

Physical-chemistry of the atmosphere

Equipe "Physico-Chimie de l'Atmosphère"
Institut de Chimie et Procédés pour l'Energie, l'Environnement et la Santé (UMR 7515)

Urban Climate and air pollution

Laboratoire Image Ville Environnement (UMR 7362)


Urban hydraulic systems

Equipe Mécanique des Fluides
Laboratoire des Sciences de l'Ingénieur, de l'Informatique et de l'Imagerie (UMR 7357)