Project 1: Deciphering River Flood Change

Climate change, river engineering or deforestation - what is to blame for the major floods of recent years? And will the floods get bigger in the future?

As part of an Advanced Grant, opens an external URL in a new window awarded by the European Research Council (ERC), measurements of major floods in Europe over the last hundred years are being evaluated, supplemented by historical findings from the last 500 years. Snowmelt, large-scale precipitation and short intense thunderstorms can be the causes of such floods. By means of a novel method of typecasting floods and non-linear dynamic models, the causes of the changes in floods are investigated, starting from global atmospheric processes, through the runoff formation of different landscape areas and the build-up of flood waves in the river systems, to the floods. From this, the natural and human influences on flood occurrence can be deduced and thus the risk for the future can be predicted.



A flooded valley with several houses standing in the water.

Project 2: Hydrological Open Air Laboratory (HOAL)

How does a flood occur? What happens when it rains, where does the water go and why do rivers burst their banks? And what happens to nutrients and pollutants?

In a comprehensively instrumented experimental catchment, opens an external URL in a new window near Wieselburg (Lower Austria), theories about the basic processes of flood generation and material flows in catchments are tested. Extensive data sets are collected with high spatial and temporal resolution. Thus, the coupled processes of water movement in the subsurface and on the earth's surface, erosion, soil moisture, water quality and evaporation are investigated. The project is in cooperation with the Institute for Soil and Water Management of the Federal Bureau of Water Management and is funded by the Austrian Science Fund and the Vienna University of Technology within the framework of the Doctoral Program Water Management Systems.



Scientist taking hydrological measurements on a flooded field

Project 3: VIWA+

A contribution to the sustainable provision of clean drinking water! Are there risks due to contamination? Where do they come from and how can they be minimized?

The quality of water is essential for human health in all areas of life. The connection between hydrology and water hygiene is the focus of this project, which is implemented within the framework of the Inter-University Cooperation Center Water & Health, opens an external URL in a new window. The overall objective of the research program is to further develop methods for the sustainable use and management of water resources in the context of drinking water supply. Methods for measurement, process description and numerical modelling of the transport of microorganisms from their entry into the soil to the tap are developed and evaluated. In the field of microbiology, the focus is on hazard and risk assessment of faecal pollution. Microbiological and toxicological risks are considered in an overall analysis.



The picture on the left shows a hydrologist standing in the water taking measurements, the picture on the right shows a scientist sitting at the microscope

Project 4: Hochwasserrisikozonierung Austria

Where does flooding occur in Austria, and how likely is it?

Within the framework of two projects commissioned by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management and the Austrian Insurance Association, flood flows are determined throughout Austria (approx. 40 000 km of watercourse length) using statistical methods. These flows are converted to flood areas with a certain probability by means of two-dimensional hydrodynamic modelling. The calculations are performed on a grid of up to 1 m resolution and are based on the simulation and visualization software Visdom, opens an external URL in a new window, which was developed together with VRVis. The project is a cooperation with the Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation, opens an external URL in a new window of the Vienna University of Technology, the engineering office Günter Humer, opens an external URL in a new window and the Center for Visual Reality and Visualization, opens an external URL in a new window.


Visualization of a result of model calculations on flood plains in a city