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Quantitative hydrology

The flow (discharge) of a water body determines its navigability, influences the supply of the riparian population with process and drinking water, but in case of floods it can also lead to the destruction of property, natural resources, and cultural heritage. Moreover, water transports dissolved substances and sediments. The latter may be deposited in places where they become hindrances for navigation and have to be removed by dredging. However, if sediments are constantly removed by natural processes, the river will cut deeper and deeper into its surrounding landscape, the water level will drop, and this may damage the sensitive riverside ecosystem. This interaction between water flow and sediment transport is decisive for the geometry and appearance of the watercourse. The quantitative hydrological factors of streamflow and sediment balance may influence both flora and fauna, as well as the usability of the watercourse as a waterway.

Illustration of the quantitative hydrology in the BfGQuantitative hydrology in the BfG

In the context of quantitative hydrology the BfG observes the geology and geometry of waterways, the development of discharge and the water and sediment balances. These studies and measurements go far beyond the narrow scope of the waterway and consider also the floodplain, groundwater-river interactions, developments in the catchment area, and even impacts of global climate change. Here, the development of measuring equipment and methods and the quality assurance of the data play major roles. Combined with appropriate simulation, forecasting, and scenario models, the data allow to draw reliable conclusions on the impacts of hydraulic engineering and water-management measures and on the development of runoff in the catchment area.

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