Brno scientists digitize Dyje river for better environmental protection and water management


A team of scientists from the Global Change Research Institute in Brno has created a digital map of the Dyje river basin. With the help of the digitized model they can simulate changes to the basin triggered by Nature and human activity, helping to avoid flash floods and ineffective projects.

The South Moravian stretch of the Dyje river and its surroundings has been converted into tables, graphs and pictures showing the river’s high and low points during drought or torrential rain. With the help of the digitized model scientists can predict with great accuracy how the river and surrounding environment would be affected by weeks of torrential rain, the construction of new dams or the return of the river bed to its original meandering flow, one of the measures currently being considered to fight drought.

Thanks to the digital model water managers, foresters and farmers will be able to foresee problems and avoid costly mistakes or ineffective measures in the future.

By clicking on individual points on the map, scientists can see the water level at a certain time of year, the profile of the riverbed or the saturation of the surrounding soil. Scientist Milan Fischer explains the advantages of the virtual model:

Photo: Petr Tichý,  Czech Radio

"Here we can test various measures without actually implementing them. It is much cheaper and we can test a vast number of different combinations without causing unnecessary environmental damage. That was the main idea – creating a digital model to test adaptation measures, to see if the measures work synergistically or against each other."

Thanks to the digitized model scientists can predict whether the construction of a new dam will dry up other rivers in the vicinity. They can tell how much water should ideally be released from a given dam in certain conditions and how that will impact the outflow into side rivers and the surrounding landscape. The model’s co-author Jana Bernsteinová explains the different colour codes.

"The individual colours depict the character of the surrounding environment. Orange represents agricultural land and pink forestland. And here we can see the inner city of Brno at the confluence of the Svratka and Svitava rivers marked in blue."

She says it makes a difference whether there is coniferous forest, deciduous forest or bare land near rivers. If there is bare soil, it will tend to hold a lot of water and in the event of torrential rain there is a danger of flash floods in the area.

The team is hoping that in future the digital model of the river basin will not only help to prevent flash floods and improve environmental protection, but also to better coordinate individual measures taken in forestry, agriculture and water management.