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OMERE a long term environmental research observatory about anthropogenic and climate change impacts on water and matter flow in Mediterranean rural hydrological systems

Voltz Marc

The continuous growth of population density and intensification of land use in the Mediterra-nean area together with the predicted climate change leads to serious agricultural and environmental issues that will have to be answered in the near future :limiting and controlling floods and soil erosion, protecting, restoring and evaluating the quality of water and soil resources, estimating the impacts of climate change on water resources, developing monitoring networks of soil and water quality.
In this context, the aims of the environmental research observatory OMERE are i) to study the impact of climate and land use change on the water flow regime and soil-vegetation-atmosphere interactions in Mediterranean head-water catchments, ii) to evaluate the intensity and dynamic of erosion processes, iii) to analyze the main mechanisms that control changes in water quality as influenced by pollution pressure by pesticides, iv) to develop generic hydrological distributed modelling approaches in rural areas.
The observatory consists in two catchments which are similar with respect to climatic condi-tions, but differ according to the change in land use they are submitted to. One of them represents the trends in land use change in the south Mediterranean: the Kamech catchment (246 ha), located on the Cap Bon (Tunisia) where occurs a progressive intensification of agriculture with an full use of the area available for agriculture and an increase in irrigated areas. The other catchment represents land use change occurring in south France : the Roujan catchment (92 ha, Hérault) where intensification of agriculture has already been operated for a few decades and has produced severe water pollution and where land abandonment now occurs. Monitoring, that started in 1994 for Kamech and in 1992 for Roujan, includes atmospheric inputs, surface flow, groudwater fluctuations, land management practices, solute and erosion fluxes, evaporation fluxes.