Articles | Volume 17, issue 12
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 5197–5212, 2013
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 5197–5212, 2013

Research article 20 Dec 2013

Research article | 20 Dec 2013

The June 2013 flood in the Upper Danube Basin, and comparisons with the 2002, 1954 and 1899 floods

G. Blöschl, T. Nester, J. Komma, J. Parajka, and R. A. P. Perdigão G. Blöschl et al.
  • Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria

Abstract. The June 2013 flood in the Upper Danube Basin was one of the largest floods in the past two centuries. An atmospheric blocking situation produced precipitation exceeding 300 mm over four days at the northern rim of the Alps. The high precipitation, along with high antecedent soil moisture, gave rise to extreme flood discharges in a number of tributaries including the Tiroler Ache, Saalach, Salzach and Inn. Runoff coefficients ranged from 0.2 in the Bavarian lowlands to 0.6 in the Alpine areas in Austria. Snowfall at high altitudes (above about 1600 m a.s.l.) reduced the runoff volume produced. Precipitation was distributed over two blocks separated by a few hours, which resulted in a single peak, long-duration flood wave at the Inn and Danube. At the confluence of the Bavarian Danube and the Inn, the small time lag between the two flood waves exacerbated the downstream flood at the Danube. Because of the long duration and less inundation, there was less flood peak attenuation along the Austrian Danube reach than for the August 2002 flood. Maximum flood discharges of the Danube at Vienna were about 11 000 m3 s−1, as compared to 10 300, 9600 and 10 500 m3 s−1 in 2002, 1954 and 1899, respectively. This paper reviews the meteorological and hydrological characteristics of the event as compared to the 2002, 1954 and 1899 floods, and discusses the implications for hydrological research and flood risk management.