Summer School "Flood Pollution"

  Flood Pollution Urheberrecht: © NUG/LEK RWTH Aachen


River floods, storm surges and tsunamis are natural events and a part of the natural water cycle. Historically, floods played an important role in maintaining key ecosystem services, productivity and biodiversity, and delivered valuable nutrients to wetlands and floodplains. In recent times, floods have accounted for economic losses, infrastructure damages, and human fatalities, in addition to immense changes of natural environments due to the interaction with anthropogenic activities in the last 250 years. Across the world, (mega)cities, rural areas, industrial infrastructures and landscapes are affected by floods. Research on flood prevention, flood protection, flood risk management and disaster management were performed on national and international scales during the last decades. However, especially knowledge on natural and anthropogenic inputs, transport, impacts and consequences of contaminants and their fate and effect in water and sediment during a flood event is still scarce. Nevertheless, the global dynamics in use of chemicals and materials and their inevitable emission into the environment offers a unique opportunity to be used as markers to understand sedimentation and remobilization of particles due to anthropogenic activities on a landscape level. Additionally, analysis of pollutant distribution may help modelling and assessing how flood events and associated distribution of pollutants have and may impact organismic performance and ecosystem functioning.

This workshop will concentrate on processes of transport, distribution, deposition, dilution, and enrichment by riverine flood events in Germany. Scientists from different disciplines will focus on the fundamental processes behind the flood induced dispersion and accumulation of harmful or even toxic substances and the corresponding ecotoxicological hazard potential. The possible usage of anthropogenic substances as markers as well as long-term effects on the environment will also be discussed.


  • Digital part:
    • Afternoons of 27th and 28th of July
    • Theory of sedimentology and geochemistry in the context of floods and their impacts on pollution: General knowledge about floods and tsunamis and environmental impact, floods in coastal and fluvial environments
  • Practical part and presentations:
    • 31st of July to 2nd of August
    • 1st day: Field trip during which samples will be taken for sedimentological and geochemical analyses.
    • 2nd and 3rd day: Various analyses will be performed in the RWTH laboratories including computer labs for remote sensing data evaluation. This should provide information about sedimentological and geochemical parameters such as the grain size distribution, TOC content or trace element concentrations. The data is then evaluated and interpreted. The final examination consists of a presentation of the results obtained during the workshop and working group tasks (remote sensing, sampling, first geochemical results and interpretation).

  Fluss mit Müll Urheberrecht: © NUG/LEK RWTH Aachen

Participants, curricular plans:

  • 20 participants – MSc candidates for EGH, AGW and GRM curricula,
  • 3 ECTS for theoretical part, 3 ECTS plus 2 field days for practical part
  • Language of instruction: English
  • With their participation, students will acquire 2 x 3 ECTS that can be used to compensate missing qualification e.g., for the following modules:
    • Geodynamics – Introduction to Sedimentology
    • Introduction to Organic Chemistry, Organic and Inorganic Geochemistry
    • Introduction to Natural Hazards
    • Field Course/Excursion modules

Registration is possible via RWTHonline: Courses / Summer School "Flood Pollution" (July/August 2024) - RWTHonline - Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (