Low Flow Situation Elbe // Update

Falling water levels in Germay (see information of the Federal Institute of Hydrology). Situation worst for the Elbe River.

It was quite obvious already during the last months: the Elbe might enter an extensive low flow situation, which now has become reality… Already since fall of 2014, precipitation (including snow accumulation) in the upper (here i.e., the Czech parts) catchment was behind normals.

During the last couple of days, water levels were further dropping:

3-hour mean water level observations for Elbe/Dresden. Stronger fluctuations as well as longer periods of constant flow are a result of dam operation in the Czech part of the catchment.

3-hour mean water level observations for Elbe/Dresden. Stronger fluctuations, as well as longer periods of constant flow, are a result of dam operation in the Czech part of the catchment.

Comparing the current low flow situation with other extreme events gives the follwing image:

Comparison of historic low flow situations with the current one (for gauge Dresden/Elbe). Imagery courtesy of BfG.

Comparison of historic low flow situations with the current one (for gauge Dresden/Elbe). Imagery courtesy of BfG.

What is quite delicate regarding the shown comparison, is the fact that the dam-system at the Vlatva River was in operation on from 1959; this means, that the situation would be even worse compared to the pre-1959 events, considering a current flow increase by 20 to 25 m³/s due to dam release in the Vlatva, Ohre, and Elbe catchment.

In other words, when talking of currently some 65 85 m³/s at gauge Dresden, without upstream control, flow would be virtually some 40 to 50 60 to 70 m³/s (which is important to be considered for any low flow frequency analysis). Furthermore, there is no silver lining yet to be seen… At least for the next couple of days, there is no significant precipitation forecasted for the upper catchment.

N.B.: Intitially given figures for low flow discharges had to be altered in the meantime due to operational flow measurements carried out by WSV required an adaption of the gauge’s rating curve.

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2 thoughts on “Low Flow Situation Elbe // Update

  1. Looks pretty bad. And it looks that is not going to change. The weather maps indicate a nice blocking situation which is making the things very complicated.

  2. Pingback: Study on the 2015 European Drought published in HESS | Andy Philipp's Hydrology Blog

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