KLIWAS - Impacts of climate change on waterways and navigation in Germany

Project leader: PD Dr. Klaus Henle

Project staff: Dipl.-Geogr. Franziska Löffler, Dipl. Ing. Mathias Scholz

Status: Funded by the German Federal Institute of Hydrology

Funded period: September 2009 to December 2013

Project description

Due to climate change a modification in river water flow is predicted. More precisely, winter floods will become lower and longer and extreme events like summer floods and heatwaves will occur more often. The impacts of this altered hydrological regime to biodiversity of floodplain grassland have to be investigated and predicted.

riparian zone Elbe; Foto: F. Löffler, UFZ

picture: F. Löffler

For this it is necessary to find the relationship between plants and environmental conditions at different sites at the floodplain. Up to now long term data is not available. We use data from previous projects (RIVA and HABEX). The well-established and geo-referenced plot-survey design of the RIVA project enables the repeated survey of the same plots of floodplain grasslands of the Middle Elbe. The study plot contains different positions at the hydrological gradient (flood depressions, wet and moist grassland). This data set allows us to analyse changing vegetation in relation to modified river water flow.
In addition to our research in floodplain grasslands we collect plant data at an unmanaged riverine area at the Middle Elbe as well as in an area of dyke re-location (Roßlauer Oberluch)

Iris sibirica, Foto: M.Scholz, UFZ

 Iris sibirica, picture: M. Scholz

Research questions

  • What impacts can be detected in plant species and plant species communities in floodplains with an altered hydrological regime of river water?
  • Which plant species benefit from altered river water flow?
  • Which plant species disappear after modified hydrological regime?
  • What are key drivers for vegetation changes at floodplain grasslands?
  • Is the plant species diversity and community comparable before and after extreme events (resilient community)?