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River Elbe Basin


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Where is the Pilot Site? Back to top

The transnational Elbe River basin is one of the major central European catchments. It covers large areas of the Czech Republic and Eastern and Northern Germany. Minor areas of the head waters are located in Austria and Poland. The catchment area is 148,268 km² and the total length of the river is 1,091 km.

Elbe River Basin Map
Why was this site chosen? Back to top

The Elbe river basin experiences a wide range of flood issues that are typical for Europe. In the mountainous regions, the flooding processes are characterised by high intensity flash flood events.  The lowlands suffer from flooding of the tributaries and the Elbe River itself, which are slower in response to the rainfall but result in very large inundation volumes.

An extreme flood event in August 2002, which resulted in damages of more than €12 Billion, highlighted shortcomings in the existing flood protection provided in the basin.   Against this background, the pilot study will identify lessons learnt from this and other events and will assist in the development of future flood risk management strategies.

Who is involved in the study? Back to top

The research being undertaken on the Elbe is a collaboration of six research institutions: Leibniz Institute of Ecological and Regional Development (IOER), the Technische Universität 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.

Elbe River Flood 2002 Elbe River Flood 2002 Car caught in flood
River Elbe Flood 2002 River Elbe Flood 2002 Car caught in flood

What is the study for? Back to top

The pilot study aims at a comprehensive development and testing of the FLOODsite-methodology under the condition of a large European river basin. It addresses the whole process from sources though pathways to receptors and consequences, including the interrelation between different sites on the catchment scale. Therefore five pilot areas have been selected for detailed risk analysis including social, economic and ecological impacts. Moreover risk perception, risk assessment and risk reduction measures and instruments are being investigated as part of integrated flood risk management strategies of cooperating actors.

Integrated risk analysis Climate change impacts on precipitation Hydrodynamic modelling of the inlet of a flood polder
Integrated risk analysis based on coupled modelling approach Climate change impacts on precipitation Hydrodynamic modelling of the inlet of a flood polder


How will the study benefit the people of the Elbe River basin? Back to top

There are various expected benefits of the Elbe pilot. The general public will receive additional information on flood risks and possible mitigation measures. In general a greater emphasis will be placed on self-protection above and beyond the current flood protection provided by the authorities. Flood risk managers from different sectors, from adjacent areas and on multiple levels will experience the testing of the comprehensive FLOODsite-methodology and receive tools and data to assist them with their work.

Where to find more information Back to top

Further details of this study can be found here.

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