Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 69, Issue 2, pp 695–705 | Cite as

John’s creek valley: a mountainous catchment for long-term interdisciplinary human-environment system research in Upper Styria (Austria)

  • U. Strasser
  • T. Marke
  • O. Sass
  • S. Birk
  • G. Winkler
Special Issue


The John’s creek valley (Johnsbachtal) is presented as a long-term, interdisciplinary cooperation platform in upper Styria (Austrian Alps) that brings together the interests and knowledge of persons with different backgrounds (scientists, teachers, students, as well as local actors and the population) with the central aim to generate mutual benefit for all involved parties. It covers an area of around 65 km2 with elevations between 600 and 700 m in the valley to over 2,300 m in the summit regions. Annual mean temperature ranges from approximately 8 °C in the lower elevations of the valley to below 0 °C in the summit regions. Annual precipitation mounts to values of 1,500 mm and more than 1,800 mm in the lower elevations and summit regions, respectively. To allow for a long-term monitoring of the complex meteorological and hydrological conditions in the area, a hydroclimatological monitoring network has been installed that is described in detail in this paper. A special characteristic of the installed meteorological stations is that they cover a large range of altitudes and, therefore, allow to capture the gradients in meteorological variables induced by the complex Alpine topography. Furthermore, the hydroclimatological monitoring network in John’s creek valley is largely independent of regular third-party project funding, and therefore, not temporarily limited in its existence. A number of catchment research activities that cover a variety of disciplines (e.g., climatology, hydrology, (hydro)geology, geomorphology) and that largely benefit from the hydroclimatological data recorded in John’s creek valley are presented together with preliminary results. The latter include spatial distributions of meteorological and hydrological variables (e.g., precipitation, evapotranspiration and snowmelt) calculated for the test site using the hydrometeorological model AMUNDSEN. Furthermore, the results of hydrogeological investigations that have been carried out at the Etzbach spring are presented and discussed.


Climate change Interdisciplinary research Catchment hydrology High Alpine monitoring network 



The work presented here could not have been realized without the greatful support of the mentioned partners. We highly acknowledge all their contributions, their engagement, and the respect of their institutions in the joint effort of the project. May it further be of great benefit for research and education. We greatly acknowledge all the support and the helping hands, mainly those of Daniel Krainer (Gesäuse National Park Administration), Ludwig Wolf (major of the community Johnsbach and Kölblwirt) and Axel Podesser (Zentral Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, Graz). We thank Andreas Pilz (Environmental Measuring Techniques Pilz) for the correction of an earlier version of the manuscript and his continuous support regarding the installation and maintenance of our technical instrumentation in the John’s creek valley.


  1. Atkinson TC (1977) Diffuse flow and conduit flow in limestone terrain in the Mendip Hills, Sommerset (Great Britain). J Hydrol 35:93–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Auer I, Bhm R, Jurkovic A, Lipa W, Orlik A, Potzmann R, Schöner W, Ungersbck M, Matulla C, Briffa K, Jones P, Efthymiadis D, Brunetti M, Nanni T, Maugeri M, Mercalli L, Mestre O, Moisselin J-M, Begert M, Mller-Westermeier G, Kveton V, Bochnicek O, Stastny P, Lapin M, Szalai S, Szentimrey T, Cegnar T, Dolinar M, Gajic-Capka M, Zaninovic K, Majstorovic Z, Nieplova E (2007) HISTALP—historical instrumental climatological surface time series of the Greater Alpine Region. Int J Climatol 27:17–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Birk S, Hergarten S (2010) Early recession behaviour of spring hydrographs. J Hydrol 387:24–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Birk S, Liedl L, Sauter M (2004) Identification of localised recharge and conduit flow by combined analysis of hydraulic and physico-chemical spring responses (Urenbrunnen, SW-Germany). J Hydrol 286:179–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. BNP (2012) Website of the Berchtesgaden National Park. Accessed in June 2012
  6. Brunetti M, Lentini G, Maugeri M, Nanni T, Auer I, Böhm R, Schöner W (2009) Climate variability and change in the greater alpine region over the last two centuries based on multi-variable analysis. Int J Climatol 29:2197–2225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Flügel HW, Neubauer F (1984) Steiermark, Erläuterungen zur geologischen Karte der Steiermark. Geologische Bundesanstalt, WienGoogle Scholar
  8. Ford DC, Williams P (2007) Karst Hydrogeology and Geomorphology. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Fuchs M (2005) Auswirkungen von möglichen Klimaänderungen auf die Hydrologie verschiedener Regionen in Österreich. PhD thesis, Institute of Water Management, Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, ViennaGoogle Scholar
  10. FWF (2012a) Description of the ROCKING ALPS project on the webpage of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). Accessed in Oct 2012
  11. FWF (2012b) Description of the SEDYN-X project on the webpage of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). Accessed in Oct 2012
  12. GLOWA (2012) Website of the GLOWA-Danube Project. Accessed in July 2012
  13. GNP (2012) Website of the Gesäuse National Park. Accessed in July 2012
  14. Habersack H, Piegay H, Rinaldi M, editors (2007) Gravel-bed rivers VI—From process understanding to river restoration. In: Developments in earth surface processes. Elsevier, Amsterdam, vol 11Google Scholar
  15. Hanzer F, Strasser U, Marke T, Warscher M, Hynek B, Olefs M, Schöner W (2011) Latest developments of the alpine snowcover model amundsen: new modules, projects and perspectives. Geophysical Research AbstractsGoogle Scholar
  16. Harum T, Holler C, Saccon P, Entner I, Hofrichter J (2001) Abschätzung des nachhaltig nutzbaren Quellwasserdargebots im alpinen Raum Österreichs. Wasserwirtschaftskataster des Bundesministeriums für Land- und Forstwirtschaft, Umwelt und Wasserwirtschaft in Wien, pp 1–77Google Scholar
  17. Hiessleitner G (1935) Zur Geologie der Erz führenden Grauwackenzone des Johnsbachtales. Jahrbuch der Geologischen Bundesanstalt 85:81–102Google Scholar
  18. Hiessleitner G (1958) Zur Geologie der Erz führenden Grauwackenzone zwischen Admont-Selzthal-Liezen. Jahrbuch der Geologischen Bundesanstalt 99:35–77Google Scholar
  19. HOBE (2012) Website of the HOBE Center for Hydrology. Accessed in June 2012
  20. IAHS (2012) Braunschweig Declaration—The need for a global network of long-term small hydrological research basins. Accessed in July 2012
  21. Kabas T, Leuprecht A, Bichler C, Kirchengast G (2011) WegenerNet climate station network region Feldbach, Austria: network structure, processing system, and example results. Adv Sci Res 6:49–54Google Scholar
  22. Lieb G, Premm M (2008) Das Johnsbachtal - Werdegang und Dynamik im Formenbild eines zweigeteilten Tales. Schriften des Nationalparks Gesäuse 3:12–24Google Scholar
  23. LTER (2012) Website of the European Long-Term Ecosystem Research Network (LTER). Accessed in June 2012
  24. Mandl G (2000) The Alpine sector of the Tethyan shelf: examples of Triassic to Jurassic sedimentation and deformation from the Northern Calcareous Alps. Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Geographischen Gesellschaft 92:61–77Google Scholar
  25. Marke T, Strasser U (2011) GISMO: a tool for quality checking and closure of gaps in meteorological time series and its potential for climate change research. In Abstracts of the conference ‘Climate Change in High Mountain Regions’ (125th Anniversary of Sonnblick), 28th August–1st September 2011, Salzburg (Austria)Google Scholar
  26. Marke T, Strasser U, Kraller G, Warscher M, Kunstmann H, Franz H, Vogel M (2013) The Berchtesgaden National Park (Bavaria, Germany): a platform for interdisciplinary catchment research. Environ Earth Sci (in press)Google Scholar
  27. ÖAV (2009) Kleine und feine Bergsteigerdörfer zum Genießen und Verweilen. Österreichischer AlpenvereinGoogle Scholar
  28. Probst G (1993) Erfassung der Wasserreserven in den Eisenerzer Alpen (Steiermark). Archiv für Lagerstättenforschung der Geologichen Bundesanstalt 14:109–117Google Scholar
  29. Rink K, Kalbacher T, Kolditz O (2012) Visual data exploration for hydrological analysis. Environ Earth Sci 65(5):1395–1403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Strasser U (2008) Modelling of the mountain snow cover in the Berchtesgaden National Park. Forschungsberichte des Nationalpark Berchtesgaden 55:1–184Google Scholar
  31. Strasser U, Hanzer F, Marke T, Warscher M, Hynek B, Olefs M, Schöner W (2011) The physically-based Alpine snowcover model AMUNDSEN: current developments and projects. Abstracts of the Alpine Glaciological meeting, 24th–25th February 2011, Munich, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  32. Thonhauser H (2007) Gewässerstruktur und Verbauungsgeschichte im Einzugsgebiet des Johnsbaches. Master’s thesis, Karl-Franzens-University, Graz, AustriaGoogle Scholar
  33. UBA (2012) Website of the Environment Agency Austria. Accessed in July 2012
  34. Wakonigg H (2012a) Klimaatlas Steiermark - Niederschlag, chapter 4. Zentral Institute for Meteorology and GeodynamicsGoogle Scholar
  35. Wakonigg H (2012b) Klimaatlas Steiermark - Temperatur, chapter 2. Zentral Institute for Meteorology and GeodynamicsGoogle Scholar
  36. Zacharias S, Bogena H, Samaniego L, Mauder M, Fu R, Ptz T, Frenzel M, Schwank M, Baessler C, Butterbach-Bahl K, Bens O, Borg E, Brauer A, Dietrich P, Hajnsek I, Helle G, Kiese R, Kunstmann H, Klotz S, Munch J, Papen H, Priesack E, Schmid H, Steinbrecher R, Rosenbaum U, Teutsch G, Vereecken H (2011) A network of terrestrial environmental observatories in Germany. Vadose Zone J 10:955–973CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • U. Strasser
    • 1
  • T. Marke
    • 1
  • O. Sass
    • 2
  • S. Birk
    • 3
  • G. Winkler
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of GeographyUniversity InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Regional ScienceUniversity GrazGrazAustria
  3. 3.Institute for Earth SciencesUniversity GrazGrazAustria

Personalised recommendations