Rhine, Alpine Rhine

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Summary

The Rhine (; ; ; ; ) is a European river that begins in the Swiss canton of Graubünden in the southeastern Swiss Alps, forms part of the Franco-German border, then flows through Germany and eventually empties into the North Sea in the Netherlands. It is the twelfth longest river in Europe, at about , with an average discharge .

Details

Near Tamins-Reichenau the Anterior Rhine and the Posterior Rhine join and form the Alpine Rhine. The river makes a distinctive turn to the north near Chur. This section is nearly 86 km long, and descends from a height of 599 m to 396 m. It flows through a wide glacial alpine valley known as the Rhine Valley. Near Sargans a natural dam, only a few metres high, prevents it from flowing into the open Seeztal valley and then through Lake Walen and Lake Zurich into the river Aare. The Alpine Rhine begins in the centre of the Swiss canton of Graubünden, and later forms the border between Switzerland to the West and Liechtenstein and later Austria to the East.

The mouth of the Rhine into Lake Constance forms an inland delta. The delta is delimited in the West by the Alter Rhein ("Old Rhine") and in the East by a modern canalized section. Most of the delta is a nature reserve and bird sanctuary. It includes the Austrian towns of Gaißau, Höchst and Fußach. The natural Rhine originally branched into at least two arms and formed small islands by precipitating sediments. In the local Alemannic dialect, the singular is pronounced "Isel" and this is also the local pronunciation of Esel ("Donkey"). Many local fields have an official name containing this element.

A regulation of the Rhine was called for, with an upper canal near Diepoldsau and a lower canal at Fußach, in order to counteract the constant flooding and strong sedimentation in the western Rhine Delta. The Dornbirner Ach had to be diverted, too, and it now flows parallel to the canalized Rhine into the lake. Its water has a darker color than the Rhine; the latter's lighter suspended load comes from higher up the mountains. It is expected that the continuous input of sediment into the lake will silt up the lake. This has already happened to the former Lake Tuggenersee.

The cut off Old Rhine at first formed a swamp landscape. Later an artificial ditch of about two km was dug. It was made navigable to the Swiss town of Rheineck.

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External Links

  • WikipediaRhine online water guide and mapBibliography on Water Resources and International LawThe *rei– rootBritain's drowned landscapes

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