Danube field studies boost training and cross-border research

Teachers and students from Hungary and Serbia take boats for interdisciplinary studies on the river that forms their common frontier.

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Students and staff conducting flow measurements on the border reach between Serbia and Hungary Students and staff conducting flow measurements on the border reach between Serbia and Hungary

A cross-border project to improve data collection on the characteristics of the river Danube will raise education standards through the use of new technologies.

Multidisciplinary teamwork

The project partners - Eötvös József College (EJF) in Baja, southern Hungary, and the Civil Engineering Faculty (GFS) of Subotica, part of the University of Novi Sad, Serbia – established a common field research area on a stretch of the river Danube in the border area between Mohacs (Hungary) and Bezdan (Serbia).

Project coordinator Enikő Anna Tamás explains: “An overall objective of the project was to enhance environmental hydraulics and water resources curricula and improve education and research capacities in both institutions EJF and GFS.”

They introduced multidisciplinary teamwork using the latest advances in field data collection techniques – to measure flow and sediment, temperature, dissolved oxygen and selected chemical-biological constituents, as well as 1-, 2-, and 3-D mathematical modelling techniques for flow and transport process in natural waters.

New monitoring zone

Among many issues they were seeking to address was the difficulty for each country in complying with international requirements on cross-border water assessment for a river that forms the frontier between them. They wanted better data from the border reach, for example on the transport of sediment, given that the closest monitoring sections were located at some distance from it – 14km upstream in Hungary and 10km downstream in Serbia, and to harmonise the two countries’ sampling methods and data processing. The results should assist both countries with environmental, nature and flood protection planning.

As part of the work, they developed 1, 2 and 3-D models of the border reach, and a database for the calibration and verification of the models and to support future environmental research. They will continue to work on the river for future training and research.

As a result of the project, the institutions were able to improve their curricula and offer both students and teachers hands-on experience using the latest techniques in data collection and mathematical modelling.

“A major benefit of this”, says Ms Tamas, “Is that the ‘improved education for environmental hydraulics and water resources engineers provides a pool of quality employees for water and environmental institutions in the area”.

Draft date