Management Influences on Stream-Flow Variability in the Past and Under Potential Climate Change in a Central European Mining Region

  • Ina PohleEmail author
  • Anne Gädeke
  • Sabine Schümberg
  • Christoph Hinz
  • Hagen Koch


Robust assessments of stream-flow volume and variability under current and potential future conditions are essential for sustainable water resources planning and management. Non-linear and overlapping responses to climate, land use, and water resources management (WRM) make it difficult to link observed stream-flow variability to individual drivers and to project potential future changes in stream-flow volume and variability. Here, we investigate WRM influences on stream-flow variability for two rivers with similar natural catchment characteristics, the Schwarze Elster and the Spree. The Schwarze Elster is characterized by less intensive WRM compared to the Spree. Management influences on stream-flow variability in the past were analysed by comparing observed managed stream-flow with simulated natural flow (model SWIM). Simulation results of natural flow and managed stream-flow (model WBalMo) forced by different climate scenarios were investigated to assess management influences on potential future stream-flow. The Schwarze Elster shows little management influences on stream-flow both in the past and under future scenarios. WRM related to lignite mining activities rather than natural processes dominated seasonal and annual stream-flow variability of the Spree in the past, while reservoir management mainly impacted short-term variability. Long-term and short-term stream-flow variability of the Spree are expected to be further reduced in future by reservoir management and water transfers to ensure minimum flow requirements. Strong impacts of WRM in reducing stream-flow variability in future scenarios underline the role of reservoir management as an effective and flexible adaptation option to uncertain climate change impacts on hydrology.


Water resources management Reservoir management Mining Hydrological modelling SWIM WBalMo 



The underlying simulation study has been performed in the project INKA BB TP 21 funded by the Federal Ministry of the Education and Research (BMBF) and the Lusatian and Central German Mining Management Company (LMBV). We are grateful to the Saxon State Office for the Environment, Agriculture and Geology and the Brandenburg State Agency of the Environment for data provision. We thank Josie Geris (University of Aberdeen) for constructive comments on the choice of flow indices and Christoph Jaunich (Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg) for initial assessments of historic stream-flow of the Spree. We acknowledge Sheila Gibbs and Pauline Miller (The James Hutton Institute) for proofreading. We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers whose comments helped improving the manuscript.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental and Biochemical SciencesThe James Hutton InstituteAberdeenUK
  2. 2.Chair of HydrologyBrandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-SenftenbergCottbusGermany
  3. 3.Research Domain Earth System AnalysisPotsdam Institute for Climate Impact ResearchPotsdamGermany
  4. 4.Research Domain Climate Impacts and VulnerabilitiesPotsdam Institute for Climate Impact ResearchPotsdamGermany

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