Helmholtz Water Network

Research platform 1: "Global Change and Hydrological Extremes"


Photo: André Künzelmann, UFZ

Global change, floods and droughts

Flood and drought damages are rapidly increasing. The number of large inland flood catastrophes between 1996 and 2005 was twice as large, per decade, than between 1950 and 1980, while the economic losses increased by a factor of five (Kron & Berz, 2007). A large part of the upward trend in losses is linked to socio-economic factors, such as growth of population and wealth in vulnerable areas. The question is open whether the frequency and/or magnitude of hydrological extremes are increasing and, if so, what factors are responsible for that.

Research focus

There is increasing consensus that hydrological systems operate under non-stationary conditions (e.g. Milly et al., 2008). Change detection by means of statistical approaches (trend tests, time series analysis etc.) plays a dominant role when looking at past changes.

Which research activities that complement these approaches by trying to better understand how changes in processes and in process interactions lead to changes in flood and drought hazard and risk? How to include studies to understand and possibly quantify temporal changes in flood and drought vulnerability besides investigations of hydrological extremes and hazards?

Research Platform 1 aims for the development of methods for the detection and attribution of changes in hydrologic extreme events. Furthermore the unterstanding and quantification of the interfaces between climatic processes and hydrologic extremes is an important topic. Another aspect is the investigation and analysis of changing vulneraibilty and it's impacts on risk.


Work package 1: Past and Present Changes in hydrological extremes

Work package 2: Hydrological extremes and climate

Work package 3: Changes in vulnerability

Work package 4: Outreach and system solutions

Interfaces within the Helmholtz Water Network:


Related research within the Helmholtz Association (POF III):

  • Research Programme "Geosystem - The Changing Earth", Topic "Natural Hazards" (GFZ)
  • Research Programme "Atmosphere and Climate", Topic "Land surface processes in the climate system" (KIT)
  • Research Programme "PACES II: Marine, Coastal and Polar Systems", Topic "Climate Service Center" (HZG, UFZ/CSC)


  • MOSES (Modular Observation Solutions for Earth Systems) (Coordination: UFZ, contribution: KIT, FZJ, GFZ, HMGU, AWI, HZG, DLR, GEOMAR)
  • HyMeX: Hydrological cycle in Mediterranean Experiment (Coordination: Ecole Polytechnique, France, contributing centres: KIT, DLR)

Projects and further activities:

Completed projects:

  • World Water Quality Assessment (UNEP, scientific ccordination: UFZ)
  • SuMaRiO - Sustainable Management of River Oases along the Tarim River (Coordination: University der Bundeswehr München, contribution: TU Dresden, GFZ)
  • LUCCi – Land Use and Climate Change Interactions in Central Vietnam (Coordination: FH Köln, beteiligte Institutionen: KIT)
  • KLIMOPASS: Klimawandel und Modellhafte Anpassung in Baden-Württemberg (KIT)


Download brochure Helmholtz Water Network



07.-09.06.2017: International ICLEA Symposium „Climate Change and Landscape Evolution in North Central Europe“ (GFZ)

04.-18.8.2017 CAWR International Summer School "Network functional dynamics -
Technological, Human & Ecological Dimensions

Direct links:


Dr. Christiane Katterfeld
Phone: +49 391 8109101