Elbe River

LTER site
Elbe River
Major ecosystems
Running waters, freshwater ecosystems
Available data since
Site coordinator
Anna Koubová | akoubova@frov.jcu.cz
University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice
Faculty of Fisheries and Protection of Waters | www.frov.jcu.cz
South Bohemian Research Center of Aquaculture and Biodiversit
Monitored river length: 371 km
120 - 335m a.s.l.
Vestřev 50°31´N - Děčín 50°47´N
Vestřev 15°45´E - Děčín 14°13´E
Annual precipitation
590 - 774mm
Temperature (air)
7,8 - 8,2°C
Other site category
River administrator: Povodí Labe s.p. | www.pla.cz

The Elbe River is one of the major rivers in Central Europe. It springs at an altitude of about 1,400 meters in the Giant Mountains in the north of the Czech Republic. It flows through eastern, middle, and northern Bohemia, and its catchment area includes most of Bohemia. The Elbe traverses the northeastern part of Germany and flows into the North Sea. The total river length is 1,094km. In the Czech Republic, the river length is 371km and the catchment area includes 49,933km2. The average flow at the Czech-German borders is 311m3.s-1. Many weirs dam the watercourse of Elbe River in the Czech Republic. This artificial intervention is crucial for the characteristics of the riverbed, its width, depth, and bottom substrate. The width of the riverbed in the monitored area ranges from approx. 10m on the upper course to approx. 150m on the lower course and river sections above the weirs. The depth of the river varies from 0.5m in the upper parts and below the weirs to more than 5m in the lower course and above the weirs. The bottom substrate varies from the stony, gravelly, and sandy fractions in shallow and fast-running sections to muddy/silty fractions in slow-running sections above the weirs. The main tributaries of the Elbe in Bohemia are Metuje, Orlice, Jizera, Ploučnice, Vltava, Ohře and Bílina rivers. The catchment area is densely populated. The river is exposed to various sources of pollution (organic, agricultural, and industrial) and hydromorphological pressures (straightening, shortening, regulation of meanders, and fragmentation of river continuity).  There are seven permanent monitoring sites on the Elbe River in the Czech Republic: Děčín (river kilometer 747.9), Litoměřice (796.9), Obříství (842.1), Lysá nad Labem (878.8), Valy (954.7), Hradec Králové (994.4) and Vestřev (1051).

The Elbe basin long term environmental research has been organised by the Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic and cooperation institutions since 1993. More than 600 physicochemical parameters, including sensory properties of water, are regularly monitored in at least nine different types of matrices (water, sediment, periphyton, floats, sedimentable floats, benthos, fish tissues, fish fry, and Dreissena polymorpha tissue) and using passive samplers. Among the main monitored characteristics belong balances of macroelements (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus), concentrations of inorganic salts, heavy metals and various organic pollutants such as pesticides, personal care products (including drugs) and other anthropogenic substances in the environment. Characteristics such as abundance and species composition are regularly monitored in fish, macrophytes, macrozoobenthos, phytobenthos and plankton.

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