The pilot study for the Elbe River basin aims at a comprehensive developing and testing of the FLOODsite integrated methodologies on long-term flood risk management under the conditions of a large and transnational European river basin. The thematic scope ranges from analysis of the entire flood risk system over the formulation and evaluation of future scenarios and strategic alternatives to the DSS development and stakeholder involvement. Within this comprehensive view, emphasis is put on particular research topics like e.g. regional climate change, the influence of land-use change on the runoff generation, multi-criteria risk evaluation, as well as hydraulic investigations on flood polders. All other contributions for the integrated approach come either from a number of other FLOODsite tasks or from matching fund research projects.
The transnational Elbe River basin has been chosen because of its wide range of different issues of flooding, which are typical for Europe. It is one of the major Central European catchments covering large areas of the Czech Republic and Eastern and Northern Germany. Minor parts of the headwaters are located in Austria and Poland. The catchment area is 148,268 km² and the total length of the river is 1,091 km. Flood risks occur in upland and lowland areas. In the mountainous regions, the flooding processes are characterised by high discharge dynamic. Hazards in some cases can even be classified as flash floods, which cause high local risks in the narrow mountain valleys. The flood risks in the lowland regions are caused by plain floods of the tributaries and the Elbe River itself. Slow raising flood waves with extreme discharge can lead to very large inundation volumes. Flood-prone areas of river sections function as pathways or receptors depending on the existence and effectiveness of mitigations measures. In the larger tributaries, like the Mulde River, uplands and lowlands are additionally related as source areas (uplands) and receptor areas (lowlands).
An extreme flood event in August 2002, which resulted in damages of more than billion €12, highlighted shortcomings in the existing flood protection provided in the basin. Against this background, the pilot site should contribute to establish a risk-based approach considering the whole cascade of flood risk generation and a scenario-based long-term management. It is assumed that results will assist in developing future flood risk management strategies, especially with respect to flood risk management plans according to the EU Floods Directive.
The research being undertaken on the Elbe is a collaboration of six research institutions: Leibniz Institute of Ecological and Regional Development (IOER), the Technische Uni-versität Dresden, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, the Potsdam University, the Czech Technical University in Prague and the GEO Group in Prague. An intensive exchange with practitioners of flood risk management has been established on various levels to facilitate the uptake of the research results. At the local level, water and spatial planning authorities and municipalities are involved. At the national and international levels there is collaboration with the German Elbe Board and the International Commission for the Protection of the Elbe River (ICPE). Research findings are also being disseminated to the general public through public events and via the media.
Click here for more comprehensive presentation of the Elbe River basin pilot site at the FLOODsite website.