VERIS-Elbe - Changes and management of risks of extreme flood events in large river basins - the example of the Elbe River

Background and Goals

The extreme flood events along large central European rivers since the mid-1990s have led to severe economic, social, and ecological damages.  The urgent need for an improved societal management of flood risks has thereby become clear. On the one hand, the question arises of how the complex interrelations between extreme floods and the damage they cause can be assessed more precisely. In this respect, it is particularly the medium-term changes caused by the climate change and the increase in the value of the damaged assets (properties) that need to be taken into account. On the other hand, the need to improve the effectiveness of prevention measures also plays a role.


The joint research project analyses the changes to the risks of extreme floods in large river basins and their potential for integrated management. The transnational catchment area of the Elbe River serves as a case study, with a more detailed investigation of the flood risks along the German part of the Elbe. At the macro scale, the flood hazard, flood vulnerability, and damage occurrence are simulated with high spatio-temporal detail. For this, the medium-term climate and land use changes in the flood plains are taken into account, up until the year 2055. Based on this, alternative courses of action in the areas of water management, construction, and spatial planning are conceived and their effectiveness and efficiency analysed. Finally, a multi-criteria evaluation of the risks and measures is carried out.

Content time


Research area/region

  • Germany
Region of implementation (all German federal states)
  • Baden-Württemberg
  • Brandenburg
  • Hamburg
  • Mecklenburg Western Pomerania
  • Lower Saxony
  • Saxony
  • Saxony-Anhalt
  • Schleswig-Holstein
Natural spatial classification
  • Erz Mountains, Thuringian Forest and Bavarian Forest
  • North-East German lowland
  • North-West German lowland
  • South-Eeastern basin and hills

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

Projections of climate change are carried out with the regional model REMO and the regional statistical model STAR. In addition, area development or land use changes are taken into account.

Parameter (climate signals)
  • River flooding
  • Altered rainfall patterns
  • Higher average temperatures
  • Extreme precipitation (incl. hail, snow)
Further times 


Step 2a: Identify and assess risks - climate effects and impact

Approach and results 

Analysis of the climate effects of extreme floods and the dangers and risks these entail.

Step 2b: Identify and assess risks - Vulnerability, risks and chances

Approach and results 

In the context of the impact analysis: flood hazard, vulnerability and the potential for damage by changing natural spatial and social conditions.

Urgency and priorization of adaptation needs 

Clarification of the urgent need for an improved societal management of flood risks through presentation of the economic, social, and ecological damages resulting from earlier flood events.

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

Provision of general knowledge and methods with which flood risks can be described with reference to their catchment areas and temporal dynamics, and assurance of a maximum social applicability of the research results through close coordination with relevant decision-makers such as the International Commission for the Protection of the Elbe River (ICPE), government and state agencies as well as selected districts and larger cities.

Time horizon
  • 2036–2065


Funding / Financing 

BMBF-funded programme "Risk Management of Extreme Flood Events"

Project management 

The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Develoment (IOER), Dresden

  • Technical University of Dresden:
    Department of Hydrology and Meteorology and Institute for Hydraulic Engineering and Technical Hydromechanics;
  • Federal Institute of Hydrology;


  • European Commission, DG Joint Research Centre (JRC), Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES), Land Management Unit (LMU), Floods and other weather driven natural hazards (WDNH);

Other cooperation partners:

  • Dresden Flood Research Center;
  • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK);
  • Max Planck Institute for Meteorology;
  • links to the projects GLOWA-Elbe and FLOODsite.

Leibniz-Institut für ökologische Raumentwicklung e. V. (IÖR)
Weberplatz 1
D-01217 Dresden

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Fields of action:
 spatial planning, urban and settlement development  water regime and water management