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Main themes of the previous meeting

November 21, 2014

Brig, Switzerland - 17 and 18 September 2014

Changes in the discharge regime of the Rhine

The combined article on the projects ‘Changes in the discharge regime’ and ‚RheinBlick2050’ for a not yet chosen international journal has been extended with information on the Kliwas project (also about Elbe and Danube). The framework for the article has been discussed. A draft will be ready and distributed among the CHR members by the end of this year.
The brochure about the project was printed and can be downloaded or ordered via the CHR website (see Publications).


The state of affairs in the project ‚From the source to the mouth – a sediment budget for the Rhine’ has been presented by Mrs. Gudrun Hillebrand of BfG. The projects aims at the composition of a sediment balance from The Alps to the North Sea. It is executed under the auspices of BfG in cooperation with the University of Aachen and supervised  by a steering group with members from Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands. The project ends late 2014. The results will be discussed at a CHR Spring Seminar in March 2015. End 2015 a larger symposium will be organized in Koblenz.

Contribution of snow and glaciers to the discharge of the Rhine

In this project the discharge percentages resulting from the melting of snow and glacial ice is determined for the Rhine catchments. The progress in the project was presented by Prof. Seibert from the University of Zurich. In the first phase of the project much attention was paid to data collection. In the past months the work has concentrated on the comparison of snow water equivalents from MeteoSwiss (RhiresD) and DWD (HYRAS) products. Work has been done on the modelling of the discharge from glacier and snow melt, resp. rain on snow. For 5 head catchments rainfall runoff simulations (HBV) have been carried out for the period 1901-2006. The project The project is on schedule and will be completed next year. After the termination of the current phase of a project a small workshop is planned to discuss the results of the first phase and to maybe prepare a second phase in which the future development of snow and glacier melt under influence of climate change will be investigated. After the second phase a larger conference will be organized.

Lake Constance as retention basin

This theme has been discussed several times in CHR meetings and has led to much discussions in the riparian states. Because CHR has the opinion that an inventory should be made of all relevant studies that have been conducted, an assignment was given to the Technical University  Munich (TUM) to carry out a literature research. In the past months TUM has made a survey of various projects, scientific publications and presentations concerning regulation of Lake Constance. With this survey the available knowledge has been listed and can be systematically analysed. The work has been presented in Brig by Mr. Hansinger of TUM. What has been investigated are the hydrological effects of potential measures, the economic potential, the effects for the immediate neighbourhood of Lake Constance (buildings, infrastructure, tourism, ecology), the constructional conditions of a steering mechanism (including potentials for hydropower) and the social and political implications. The final report will be ready later this year, after which CHR can consider further activities.

Hydrological forecasts

The CHR representatives have been informed about the annual meeting of EFAS that has taken place earlier this year. Furthermore an overview was given of the number of warnings generated by EFAS in the past years.

CHR members have reported on the activities on operational flood and drought  forecasting in their countries. There are initiatives to improve snow melt modelling, extension of lead times and the generation and visualization of probabilistic forecasts.

Climate change

The question has been asked, whether there are reasons for a continuation of the RheinBlick2050 project based on new climate scenarios. There are different opinions. It has been agreed that there will be a more profound discussion on the recent available scenarios for the Rhine catchment during the next CHR meeting (if possible also with a presentation).

Socio-economic impacts on the regime of the Rhine

In March 2014 CHR has organized a colloquium on this subject in Bregenz. The final report of the colloquium has been discussed in Brig. Mr. Ruijgh from Deltares has compiled a proposal in which he described a possible thematic approach of the subject.

It was concluded that there is already much knowledge and experience in the different riparian countries and that this should be integrated through a meta-project. It should first be investigated what are the most important influencing factors in socio economy. The representatives of the Netherlands and Switzerland think they can do this before the next CHR meeting. Based on this exercise CHR will discuss a further approach. The president of CHR will make inquiries whether the Central Commission for the Navigation on the Rhine is interested to participate in a project.

Preparation 50th anniversary of CHR - new edition of the Rhine Monograph

In the year 2020 CHR will celebrate its 50th anniversary. It has been proposed to publish an new Rhine Monograph on this occasion.

A project group will be set up in which former employees of CHR member institutes are invited to participate. The project group will be led by Prof. Siegfried Demuth (presently IHP Paris, but from January 2015 back at BfG). From Switzerland Bruno Schädler will participate.

During the meeting in Brig Mr. Felix Hauser of the University Bern presented the Hydrological Atlas of Switzerland (HADES). The platform that is developed as a user interface for the atlas could also be used for the Rhine Monograph.

Cooperation with other international organisations

CHR will officially ask WMO to appoint a new representative to attend CHR meetings, as successor to Wolfgang Grabs.

The request of CHR to become an observer status within ICPR has been granted.

In May 2014 CHR has organized together with the Mekong River Commission (MRC) a symposium on ‘Climate Change and its Influence on Water and Related Sectors’. The final report of the symposium is available. CHR has a positive attitude towards future cooperation (e.g. a 2nd Rhine-Mekong-Symposium in 2015). A continuation of the cooperation however depends largely on the internal developments within MRC and on the availability of funds for the CHR to finance the cooperation.

CHR has applied for an observer status within the Central Commission for the Navigation on the Rhine. The request has been approved by the national delegations but should be officially ratified by the plenary meeting later this year.

The next (75th) CHR meeting will be held 26 and 27 March 2015, in combination with the sediment spring seminar, in Lyon France at the premises of IRSTEA.
The 76th CHR meeting will be held 16 and 17 September 2015 in The Netherlands.