Wasserwirtschaft und Hydrosystemmodellierung

Long-term simulation of sediment transport in the Upper Rhine


This research is a part of the project "Sedimentmanagement of the Upper Rhine" and carried out in cooperation with BfG.

The sediment management in the Upper Rhine River can be affected in the long-term by various natural or anthropogenic activities, e.g. the climate change and land use changes, restoration and engineering measures. To investigate such impacts, a long-term simulation of such scenarios is necessary.

In this research, the long-term dynamics of the fine sediment budget in the Upper Rhine will be determined (i.e. how long does it take to refresh the top layer of the deposition?).

Furthermore, morphodynamic processes in the Iffezheim reservoir with non-uniform bed composition will also be investigated using SSIIM 3D modeling system. High-resolution numerical models combined with other suitable methods will be chosen for the scenario analyse. The results will serve as the basis for a much coarser sediment budget model of the Upper Rhine.

The research will include:

  • Coarsening of grid
  • Classification of upstream boundary condition
  • Time-series analysis
  • Artificial neural network

Study Area

The Iffezheim reservoir consists of a weir, a hydropower plant, a ship lock and a fish passage. 

Field Data

The focus area of the investigation is based on the weir channel where more than 115.000 m³ of suspended sediments are depositecd every year (WSA,2011). With regard to flood protection requirements, the responsible water and shipping authority has to complete regular dredging of the area. The river bed evolution is presented in the figure from 2005 December to 2007 April. WSA, Wasser- und Schifffahrtsamt, Freiburg, 2011. Sachstandbericht oberer Wehrkannal Staustufe Iffezheim 2011.  

Simulation Results

A high-resolution model was set up for investigations of river morphodynamic processes in the Iffezheim Reservoir. For the long-term simulation the coarsening of the spatial grid resolution was carried out. The impact of this coarsening on the accuracy of the hydraulic and morphodynamic parameters with further consideration of the processing time was investigated.


The simulation of sediment transport consists of three steps in the SSIIM programme:

  • water flow simulation with steady state condition
  • sediment transport simulation with steady state condition
  • sediment transport simulation with unsteady conditions according to the measured data

Since the results from the first step affect the subsequent sediment simulations, the water flow calculation must be performed accurately to ensure correct results for further steps.

Since the sediment concentration is distributed inhomogenously in the river bed, the fitting method polynomial regression is used to define a concentration profile of suspended sediment at the model boundary.




  • 25th - 26th of March, 2015: CHR Spring Seminar- " From source to mouth, a sediment budget of the Rhine River" in Lyon, France
  • 16th - 17th of July, 2015: GESINUS Meeting in Aachen, Germany
  • 28th of Juni - 3rd of July, 2015:   36th IAHR World Congress in the Hague, Netherland
  • 3rd - 4th of November, 2015: 17th Morphological Colloquium, Koblenz, Germany
  • 15th - 16th of June, 2016: GESINUS Meeting in Magdeburg, Germany
  • 11st - 15th of July, 2016: River Flow 2016, 8th International Conference on Fluvial Hydraulics, St. Louis, USA
  • 1st - 5th of August, 2016: Sediment Transport in Stream Assessment and Design, Workshop, Logan, Utah, USA
  • 19th - 22th of September, 2016: International Symposium on River Sedimentation in Stuttgart, Germany
  • 23th - 28th of April, 2017: European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2017, Vienna, Austria




Speckter, T.F.: Auswirkungen vergröberter räumlicher und zeitlicher Gitternetzauflösungen bei der hoch aufgelösten Modellierung von Hydraulik und Sedimenttransport an der Staustufe Iffezheim, Master thesis (Civil engineering).

Zhang, Q., Speckter, T.F., R. Hinkelmann: Auswirkungen vergröberter räumlicher und zeitlicher Gitternetzauflösungen bei der hoch aufgelösten Modellierung von Hydraulik und Sedimenttransport an der Staustufe Iffezheim, Presentation, GESINUS Meeting, Aachen.


Brandolini, A.: Grouping upstream boundary conditions - river discharges and suspended sediment concentrations from 1978-2009, student research project.


Truong, T.M.: Bestimmung eines ARIMA-Modells zum Erstellen einer Vorhersage der monatlichen Abflüsse der Staustufe Iffzheim, student research project.

Scheer, C.L.: Literature Research on the application of artificial neural networks (ANNs) in river morphology, student research project.

Project head:

Prof. Dr.-Ing. R. Hinkelmann

Scientific assistant:
Qing Zhang M.Sc.

Project period:

April 2015 - March 2017

BfG Federal Institute of Hydrology