Junior Research Group Human - Water Interaction

 

Challenges and goals

Fine sediment input into the Heimbach reservoir through the Kermeter tunnel © IWW Fine sediment input into the Heimbach reservoir through the Kermeter tunnel

Human influence on rivers in Central Europe goes back many millennia, starting at the latest with the intensification of agriculture and forest clearing. Many of today's river changes originated in the Middle Ages, such as mill ditches, which are still used by industry today. River straightening and dam construction began at the latest with industrialization. Today, morphodynamic processes from past and present measures overlap. In addition, natural conditions form the foundation for watercourse development. It isn't easy to estimate how flowing waters will develop in the future and how they will react to current water management measures. How we live with our flowing waters also changes depending on the socio-economic era. For example, rivers influence humans in the event of flooding or through their function as transport routes and water suppliers, just as humans change river systems. Due to the increasing settlement on river floodplains and the limitation of water bodies by infrastructure, man not only intervenes directly in developing water bodies but is also more affected by floods.

 

  Erosion in the Ahr River after the flood incident of mid-July 2021 © IWW Erosion in the Ahr River after the flood incident of mid-July 2021

The junior research group Human-Water Interaction aims to contribute to climate-resilient water management with a morphological and hydrological focus. For this purpose, the human influence on morphological stream development is considered. At the same time, interfaces are investigated where the morphological and hydrological condition of flowing waters directly influences humans, for example, in the case of floods or droughts.

 
 

Tasks and research methods

Human impact on river development © S. Wolf Human impact on river development, interventions in the hydrological cycle and the sediment cycle

On the one hand, the junior research group's task is to evaluate human influences, such as water management measures and land use changes, on the development of watercourses. Geoinformation system-supported long-term observations of watercourse development form a central approach to recording historical and current causal relationships. Another is investigating how current floodplain use and near-stream infrastructure interact with high and low flows. In addition to hydraulic interactions, sediment and flotsam transport will also be considered.

 

Combining hydro numerical simulations, model tests, and field investigations will address different questions.