Assessing and Mitigating Ice-Jam Flood Hazards and Risks: A European Perspective
Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz,
Water, Volume 15, Issue 1
The assessment and mapping of riverine flood hazards and risks is recognized by many countries as an important tool for characterizing floods and developing flood management plans. Often, however, these management plans give attention primarily to open-water floods, with ice-jam floods being mostly an afterthought once these plans have been drafted. In some Nordic regions, ice-jam floods can be more severe than open-water floods, with floodwater levels of ice-jam floods often exceeding levels of open-water floods for the same return periods. Hence, it is imperative that flooding due to river ice processes be considered in flood management plans. This also pertains to European member states who are required to submit renewed flood management plans every six years to the European governance authorities. On 19 and 20 October 2022, a workshop entitled “Assessing and mitigating ice-jam flood hazard and risk” was hosted in Poznań, Poland to explore the necessity of incorporating ice-jam flood hazard and risk assessments in the European Union’s Flood Directive. The presentations given at the workshop provided a good overview of flood risk assessments in Europe and how they may change due to the climate in the future. Perspectives from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, and Poland were presented. Mitigation measures, particularly the artificial breakage of river ice covers and ice-jam flood forecasting, were shared. Advances in ice processes were also presented at the workshop, including state-of-the-art developments in tracking ice-floe velocities using particle tracking velocimetry, characterizing hanging dam ice, designing new ice-control structures, detecting, and monitoring river ice covers using composite imagery from both radar and optical satellite sensors, and calculating ice-jam flood hazards using a stochastic modelling approach.
Development of an Ice Jam Flood Forecasting System for the Lower Oder River—Requirements for Real-Time Predictions of Water, Ice and Sediment Transport
Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz,
Water, Volume 11, Issue 1
Despite ubiquitous warming, the lower Oder River typically freezes over almost every year. Ice jams may occur during freeze-up and ice cover breakup phases, particularly in the middle and lower reaches of the river, with weirs and piers. The slush ice and ice blocks may accumulate to form ice jams, leading to backwater effects and substantial water level rise. The small bottom slope of the lower Oder and the tidal backflow from the Baltic Sea enhance the formation of ice jams during cold weather conditions, jeopardizing the dikes. Therefore, development of an ice jam flood forecasting system for the Oder River is much needed. This commentary presents selected results from an international workshop that took place in Wrocław (Poland) on 26–27 November 2018 that brought together an international team of experts to explore the requirements and research opportunities in the field of ice jam flood forecasting and risk assessment for the Oder River section along the German–Polish border. The workshop launched a platform for collaboration amongst Canadian, German and Polish scientists, government officials and water managers to pave a way forward for joint research focused on achieving the long-term goal of forecasting, assessing and mitigating ice jam impacts along the lower Oder. German and Polish government agencies are in need of new tools to forecast ice jams and assess their subsequent consequences and risks to communities and ship navigation along a river. Addressing these issues will also help research and ice flood management in a Canadian context. A research program would aim to develop a modelling system by addressing fundamental issues that impede the prediction of ice jam events and their consequences in cold regions.