Lower Elbe

Only sub-area in the tidal section of the river Elbe

The sub-area is located in the Lower Elbe and in the landscape of the North German Plain. The river flows in a north-westerly direction with only a low gradient.

The Hamburg port is in a bifurcation area of the Elbe which forms an inland delta. In the past, the tidal backwater lead to a branching of the river in numerous arms and river channels, and islands and sand banks formed. All these river arms join again before the Elbe flows into the North Sea.

The surrounding landscape is characterized by wide and fertile marshes. The only exceptions are several stretches in Hamburg where the northern river banks are formed by the slope of the moraine, the so-called Geesthang.

This sub-area is used to document the contaminant load which the Elbe discharges into the North Sea.

Sampling site

Blankenese (km 634) Sampling site downriver of the estuary of the river Elbe into the North Sea.


Zebra mussel Common mussel species as invasive animal in rivers and lakes with high information level for water pollution
Bream Bioindicator in rivers and lakes
Suspended particulate matter Fine insoluble mineral or organic particles in the water phase


Metals Eighty percent of all elements on earth are metals
Nonmetals Only eighteen elements in the periodic table
Organometallic compounds Organic substances with at least one metall atom
Chlorohydrocarbons Group of organic compounds with at least one covalently bonded chlorine atom
DDT and metabolites Toxic and persistent organochloropesticide
Hexachlorocyclohexane Several isomeric compounds among the group of chlorinated hydrocarbons
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Group of organic compounds with at least three condensed six-membered rings
Biocides and plant protection products Chemical agents against harmful organisms and for plant protection
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds Organic compounds which are fully (per-) or partially (poly-) fluorinated
Polycyclic musks Class of synthetic fragrances
Alkylphenol compounds Class of non-ionic surfactants and their degradation products
Stable Isotopes Atoms of one element with different weights
Flame Retardants Flame retardants reduce the flammability of objects
Supplementary parameters Additional information for the interpretation of contamination data

Sampling period

1993 - 2019