The Coast the Wadden and Estuaries Estuaries and Dunes

In the coastal zone the rise of the sea level has a huge impact on the ability to protect land behind the dikes. Beside that, it hinders the free discharge of river-water towards the sea. On top of that, saline seawater penetrates deeper into the land by sea-arms and groundwater flows. Finally, the saltwater quality decreases because the supply of fresh water is hindered by sudden fluctuations, due to the increase of extreme peak showers. At the same time less sediment is available because the relation between river and sea is disconnected and the sea level rises faster (Bureau Stroming, 2006).

If climate buffers are realised these areas would be capable again to keep up with the sea level rise. To make this possible the areas need to gain net sediment, for example by the introduction of dynamic coastal management, restore tidal functions or create new dunes. Between the dunes a plain emerges, where the sediment is able to settle down. A coastal zone evolves instead of a coastline. Opening the coastline enhances the supply of sand and clay and therefore the land is capable to grow in the same pace as the sea level is rising. If living is required here, this needs to be realised on artificial hills (wierden). Spin-off of thinking in a coastal zone is that the strict separation between salt and sweet water is left behind and a rich variety of salty environments will emerge. Sweet water can be stored in sweet water basins in the dunes and by means of a brook-system can be transported to end-users. The Wadden Sea functions more or less in this manner already. However, Bureau Stroming states that the circumstances in the Wadden Sea need to be strengthened in order to improve the sedimentation process (Fig. 5.30). The flood dynamic may return if kwelders are restored, the living conditions of sea-grass fields, mussel and cockle banks are increased or free the development of dust dikes on the Wadden islands. Changing like this, the Wadden area is capable to keep up with the changes in climate and able to improve safety at the same time.

As Table 5.2 illustrates, climate buffers provide on many criteria very positive scores in contributing climate proofing the Netherlands. Not only the logical themes, like safety, nature and water benefit from the concept; also the economic and living conditions improve.

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