Eines Decision Support Systems, Elbe


Yan Huang

Harriette Holzhauer

Koen U. van der Wal

J.L. de Kok


University of Twente

USF-Osnabrueck, Riks BV Maastricht

Infram International BV, Zeewolde

Universität Osnabrück


Bundes Ministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)

Bundesanstalt für Gewässerkunde (BfG)


March 2002 – May 2005


The aim of the project is to develop a prototype tool for integrated management of the Elbe river basin at various scales. Functions considered include: ecology of the floodplains, water quality, flood safety, and shipping. Related research themes are: the matching of spatial and temporal scales to end-user requirements, consistent system design at various levels of hierarchy (catchment, main channel and floodplains).

Methods and results

A central aspect of the design approach is the combination of direct end-user involvement with qualitative and quantitative systems analysis techniques. End-users and stakeholders have been consulted in the initial phase of the project to arrive at a problem formulation, including key management indicators, criteria, and tentative measures such as dike shifting and floodplain renaturation. During the project end-user involvement remains important in view of ongoing changes in RBM priorities (e.g. German 5-point action program for flood risk reduction issued after August 2002 flood catastrophe). Qualitative systems analysis techniques such as hierarchic diagrams are used to control and communicate the design process and form the basis for discussions between the developers and a steering committee of end users. To deal with scale differences a modular design approach has been adopted that is defined at three scales: catchment, main channel, and selected section of floodplains. Readily available models and data obtained during the Elbe Ecology program (1990-1999) are used as much as possible to quantify the interactions in the system diagram. Model and data selection, as well as testing, is based on uncertainty and sensitivity analysis techniques, both at the level of individual process models and at the level of the integrated system as a whole. Process modelling is based on a combination of statistical and dynamic approaches. For water quality, floodplain vegetation, and navigation discharge statistics form the basis for the calculations. For flood risk results are obtained by means on peak discharge statistics as well as event-based modelling.

The following results have been obtained from the project:

Delivery of a prototype decision-support for the Elbe river-basin, which allows end-users to combine various measures at channel and catchment scale with scenarios such as climate change.

Conceptual framework for river-basin management.

Methodology for appropriate integration of dynamic and statistical models.

Conceptual framework for integrated system design and selection of appropriate models and data based on end-user requirements with respect to the accuracy of predicted changes in functions.


Kofalk, S., Boer, S., Scholten, M., Kok, J. L. de, Matthies, M., & Hahn, B. (2004). Ein Decision Support System für das Flusseneinzugsgebiets-Management der Elbe.. In J. Möltgen & D. Petri (Eds.), Interdisziplinäre Methoden des Flussgebietsmanagements. Workshop 15-16 March 2004, Münster, Germany. IfGI Prints 21 (pp. 1-10). Münster, Germany: Institut für Geoinformatik, 2004.

Kok, J. L. de, Wal, K. U. van der, & Booij, M. J. Appropriate accuracy of models for decision -support systems; case example for the Elbe river basin. In C. Pahl, S. Scmidt & T. Jakeman (Eds.), iEMSs 2004 International Congress: "Complexity and integrated resources management". International Environmental modelling and software Society, June 2004 Osnabrück, Germany: iEMSs, 2004.

Kok, J. L. de, & Huang, Y. How to present flood risk: a case study for the Elbe.. In S.Y Liong, K.K. Phoon & V. Babovic (Eds.), Proceedings of the 6th international conference on Hydroinformatics 2004, June 2004 (pp. 1883-1890). Singapore, Malaysia, 2004.

Kok, J. L. de, & Holzhauer, H. Pitfalls and challenges in the design and application of decision support systems for integrated river-basin management. In J. Möltgen & D. Petri (Eds.), Interdisziplinäre Methoden des Flussgebietsmanagements. Workshop 15-16 March 2004, Münster, Germany. IfGI Prints 21 (pp. 97-104). Münster, Germany: Institut für Geoinformatik, 2004.

Kok, J.L. de and Huang, Y., Assessment of Flood Risk at Various Scales: The Elbe prototype DSS, in: Van Alphen, Van Beek, and Taal (Eds.), Floods, from Defence to Management, Symposium Papers of the 3rd International Symposium on Flood Defence, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, 25-27 May 2005, Taylor & Francis Group, London, 2005.

Kok, J.L. de and Kofalk S. (2006), Towards a user-oriented design of a DSS for Integrated River-Basin Management: the Elbe Prototype DSS. In A. Voinov, A. Jakeman, and A. Rizolli (Eds.), Proc. of the IEMSS Third Biennial Meeting: "Summit on Environmental Modelling and Software", July 9-12, 2006, Burlington, Vermont, USA.

Huang, Y., Appropriate Modeling for Integrated Flood Risk Assessment, Ph.D thesis, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands, October 2006.