StartseiteMinisterium für Umwelt, Klima und Energiewirtschaft Baden-WürttembergBayerisches Staatsministerium für Umwelt und VerbraucherschutzMinisterium für Umwelt, Energie, Ernährung und Forsten (MUEEF)Deutscher WetterdienstLandesamt für Umwelt (LfU RP)Landesanstalt für Umwelt, Messungen und Naturschutz Baden-Württemberg

KLIWA-Workshop "Extreme Hochwasser"

Floods and climate change; Dutch experiences along the Rhine and the Meuse

Referent: Dr. Marcel de Wit - RIZA, Arnheim (Niederlande)

Present situation

The Netherlands are situated in the delta of the Rhine and the Meuse. Without flood protection large parts of the country would be regularly inundated. Flood protection in the Netherlands is based on design discharges with a given probability of occurrence. Along the non-tidal, embanked parts of the Rhine and Meuse an occurrence frequency of once every 1,250 years is used. The corresponding discharge has been obtained by analysing observed annual maximum discharges and peak over threshold discharges. The observed discharge record is relatively short: starting in 1901 for the Rhine and 1911 for the Meuse. This implies that new observations can substantially effect the calculated design discharge. In 2001 the design discharge for the river Rhine has been updated from 15,000 m³/s to 16,000 m³/s and the design discharge for the river Meuse has been updated from 3,650 m³/s to 3,800 m³/s. The current policy is to handle this increase by creating more space for the river rather than increasing the level of the dikes. At present large scale measures to increase space for the river are partly in preparation and partly under construction.

Preparing for a future with climate change

There is a growing concern that climate change will lead to an increase of precipitation and as a result an increase of the frequency and magnitude of floods in the Rhine and Meuse. Based on climate change scenarios it is argued that by the end of the 21th Century the design discharges may increase to 18,000 m³/s (Rhine) and 4,600 m³/s (Meuse). These estimates have been used as a boundary condition for long term outlooks of flood risks along the Dutch rivers.

Major aim of these outlooks is

  1. to evaluate whether the current measures are sustainable, and

  2. to reserve space along the river that can be used in case the present measures appear to be insufficient. The recent floods, research activities, and political statements have triggered a lively public discussion on climate change and flood management in the Netherlands.

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