HYBAM observatory

HYBAM observatory

Scientific context

The HYBAM observatory (HYdro-géochimie du Bassin Amazonien) is a unique device dedicated to the long-term hydrological, sedimentary and hydrogeochemical monitoring of tropical peri-Atlantic river basins. Initially created within the framework of a partnership with the Amazonian countries, HYBAM is dedicated to the acquisition of data about Amazon, Orinoco, Zaire, Maroni and Oyapock rivers. Valuable data about water resources are acquired through a network of 44 observation stations operating in 8 countries (Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, French Guiana, Venezuela, Congo-Brazzaville). These rivers are sentinels of global change and local land use changes in critical regions of the planet.


Starting year: 1986

Localisations: South-America, Congo-Brazzaville

Keywords: water resources, global climate, water cycle, river basin

Database: www.so-hybam.org

Web site: https://hybam.obs-mip.fr/

PI: Jean-Michel MARTINEZ

Scientific questions

The goal of the observatory is the large-scale hydrological, biogeochemical, and geomorphological study of some of the largest rivers on Earth, considered as sentinels of the climate change and local land use changes. The scientific issues concern the understanding of hydroclimatic and biogeochemical cycles variability at the scale of very large river basins (such as the carbon cycle) and sediment transport (relief evolution). The aim is to better understand the impact of human activities (massive changes in land use, deforestation, construction of dams, exploitation of hydrocarbons, etc.), and of climate change inducing the acceleration of extreme events (floods, low water levels) on the hydrological functioning and the processes of water-rock interaction, erosion and transfer of materials in the Amazon basin and other large river basins.

Sites and measured variables

The instrumentation allows the collection of hydrological (water levels, flows, gauges ADCP), physicochemical (temperature, pH, conductivity, etc.) and geochemical (COD, MES, main elements, traces, rares earths) data in 17 stations. Analyses are carried out in in situ stations (thanks to local observers) or through virtual stations (monitoring of river level by satellite altimetry and sediment load by satellite imagery). Nearly 15 000 data are collected annually on all stations. The measurements using standardized protocols and the analysis of the results are carried out jointly by the network of partners, thus promoting regional and North-South exchanges.

HYBAM has 14 sites on the Amazon basin from upstream to downstream (Maranon, Ucayali, Napo, Amazonas, Solimoes amont, Purus, Solimoes aval, Rio Béni, Madeira amont, Madeira Aval, Negro, Branco, Tapajos, Amazon at Obidos), two in French Guinea (Maroni, Oyapock), the Orinoco and the Congo.

Partners and further information

The HYBAM observatory is an observation system of the National Institute of Universal Science – INSUCNRS. It is coordinated at Géosciences Environnement Toulouse – GET (Toulouse). It is financially supported by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) and the Midi-Pyrenees Observatory in Toulouse. At the national level, it is associated with four other French laboratories: LEGOS  (Toulouse), HSM (HydroSciences Montpellier), UMR ESPACE-DEV (Montpellier) and IMAGO (Brest). It also operates with a network of partners in the southern countries associating universities, research institutes and technical services (hydrological services, water agencies).