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Red River Basin - human activities and climate change

Introduction of the Red River basin

         The Red River basin is located in Southeast Asia (from 20o00 to 25o30 N; from 100o00 to 107o10 E). To the North the basin borders with the Yangtze River basin, to the East the Thai Binh basin, to the West borders with the Mekong River basin and the Ma River, and to the South with the Gulf of Tonkin. The Red River flows eastward into the Tonkin Bay (South China Sea) and rises in a mountainous region of southeastern China, in the Yunnan province, where its name is the Yuan River; it crosses into Vietnam near Lao Cai where it is named Cai, Thao, or Hong River. The main branch is about 1,140 km long, and passes through some Chinese and Vietnamese provinces before flowing into the South Asian Sea through four defluent branches named Day, Lach Giang, Ba Lat and Tra Ly. The Thao River has two major tributaries, the Da and Lo Rivers, downstream of which the main branch is named Hong (Red) River.
         The total area of the entire river basin is approximately 169,000 km2, including 50.3% of the Red River basin is located in Vietnam, 48.8% in China and 0.9% in Laos. The topography of Red River basin slopes from northwest to southeast. Mountainous terrain to the East and North dominates the upper catchment area and tends to decrease in a northwest – southeast direction with an average altitude of 1,090 m. The mountainous region on the border between Vietnam and Laos has many mountains above 1,800m such as Pu Si Lung, Pu Den Dinh, Pu San Sao. Within the Red River basin, Hoang Lien Son mountains divide the Da and Thao Rivers, two of the tributaries of the Red River. The average altitude of the river basin is high: Lo River > Da River > Thao River.
        The climate in the Red River basin is quite homogeneous across the four sub-basins and of subtropical character. The rainy season, lasting from May to October, represents 85 to 90% of the total annual rainfall, and the dry season from November to April represents only 10 to 15%. Wind direction in the basin generally depends on the orientation of the valley. It can vary from mainly the west or northwest during the summer in the Da River basin to south-southeast in the Lo River Basin. The distribution of rainfall in the basin depends heavily on the topography. The average relative humidity in the basin is high and values from 80% - 90% are common.
         The Red River system has three major tributaries: Da, Thao and Lo Rivers. All three rivers originate from Yunnan (China) and then flow into Viet Nam. The Red River delta has a network of interlacing canals and arroyos. It has several distributaries including the Duong and Luoc Rivers that flow into the Thai Binh River and the Tra Ly, Dao and Ninh Co Rivers. The Red River flows in the Gulf of Tonkin at Ba Lat, as well as through the Tra Ly, Lach Giang and Day Rivers.
         Land use is very diverse from one upstream sub-basin to another as well as between the upstream sub-basins and the delta area. Industrial crops dominate (58%) in the Lo basin, forests and bare land (74%) in the Da river basin, and paddy rice fields (66%) in the delta area. The Thao river basin is characterized by a larger diversity of land use including forest, paddy rice fields, and industrial crops (85%) 

                                                           
          Administratively, the Red River basin covers 23  provinces with a population of 32 million people (estimates for 2013) including the capital city of Hanoi and large port city of Hai Phong. The Red River basin has the largest population density in Viet Nam. The delta provinces are most densely populated with the major cities of Hanoi, BacNinh, Hai Phong and Hung Yen.
                                      
       The Red River Delta, along with the Mekong River Delta is a key economic and agricultural region in Vietnam. The economy of the region is based on industry, services, agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Industry is mainly metallurgy, chemicals, construction materials along with food processing and consumer goods production. Agricultural production is strongly based on irrigated and non irrigated crops and aquaculture. The production of hydroelectricity is important in the larger reservoirs (Hoa Binh, Thac Ba, Son La, Tuyen Quang). Tourism is also an important economic activity in several of the provinces (Hanoi; Tam Coc, Bich Dong, Trang An – Ninh Binh; Ha Long – Quang Ninh; Tam Dao – Vinh Phuc).

                       
Some websites concerning the Red River system
1,  http://documents.tips/documents/luu-vuc-song-hong-thai-binh.html
General introduction of the Red River
 2,  http://news.zing.vn/Ve-dep-song-Hong-nhin-tu-vu-tru-post79535.html
 Photos of the Red River
 3,  http://www.vietnamtourism.com/index.php/news/items/5124
General introduction of the Red River + photos
 4,  http://hungyentv.vn/165/24912/Anh-dep-que-huong/Song-Hong--hinh-anh-quy-hiem-ve-mot-dong-chay-huyen-thoai.htm
Photos of the Red River
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