Duration: 2009-2010

The study focuses on Cuxhaven located at the mouth of the Elbe estuary. A procedure, based on a modified existing modeling system covering the entire North Sea and parts of the Northeast Atlantic is proposed to investigate the processes involved during conditions of extreme water levels within the outer Elbe estuary. Techniques for the isolated modeling of each of the contributing processes are developed and verified.

To investigate the mutual interactions, the processes are overlaid in various combinations. Various conditions in the astronomical tide, three major storm events over the North Sea, several external surges and an increase in the mean sea level are analyzed. The isolated processes are temporally shifted relative to each other and superimposed in various combinations. The most adverse superimpositions lead to new scenarios of extreme water levels.


Superposition of water levels due to tide, sea level rise, storm winds over the North Sea and external wave. © G. Bruss, FTZ.

The results obtained from the method proposed provide new insights into the nonlinear interactions between the involved processes. Generally, the effects of the processes seem to be reduced in superpositions with high absolute water levels. However, due to the large scatter of the results no general relations are found. New extreme scenarios are determined by iterative maximizations of the peak water level of different superpositions around spring high tide. 

Research division:


  • Prof. Dr. R. Mayerle
  • G. Gönnert


  • G. Bruss
  • R. Osinski


  • Landesbetrieb Straßen, Brücken und Gewässer (LSBG) - Stadt Hamburg