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Open AccessArticle

Future Response of the Wadden Sea Tidal Basins to Relative Sea-Level rise—An Aggregated Modelling Approach

1
Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands
2
Rijkswaterstaat, 3500 GE Utrecht, The Netherlands
3
Deltares, 2600 MH Delft, The Netherlands
4
Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands
5
School of Ocean and Earth Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(10), 2198; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11102198
Received: 6 September 2019 / Revised: 17 October 2019 / Accepted: 17 October 2019 / Published: 22 October 2019
Climate change, and especially the associated acceleration of sea-level rise, forms a serious threat to the Wadden Sea. The Wadden Sea contains the world’s largest coherent intertidal flat area and it is known that these flats can drown when the rate of sea-level rise exceeds a critical limit. As a result, the intertidal flats would then be permanently inundated, seriously affecting the ecological functioning of the system. The determination of this critical limit and the modelling of the transient process of how a tidal basin responds to accelerated sea-level rise is of critical importance. In this contribution we revisit the modelling of the response of the Wadden Sea tidal basins to sea-level rise using a basin scale morphological model (aggregated scale morphological interaction between tidal basin and adjacent coast, ASMITA). Analysis using this aggregated scale model shows that the critical rate of sea-level rise is not merely influenced by the morphological equilibrium and the morphological time scale, but also depends on the grain size distribution of sediment in the tidal inlet system. As sea-level rises, there is a lag in the morphological response, which means that the basin will be deeper than the systems morphological equilibrium. However, so long as the rate of sea-level rise is constant and below a critical limit, this offset becomes constant and a dynamic equilibrium is established. This equilibrium deviation as well as the time needed to achieve the dynamic equilibrium increase non-linearly with increasing rates of sea-level rise. As a result, the response of a tidal basin to relatively fast sea-level rise is similar, no matter if the sea-level rise rate is just below, equal or above the critical limit. A tidal basin will experience a long process of ‘drowning’ when sea-level rise rate exceeds about 80% of the critical limit. The insights from the present study can be used to improve morphodynamic modelling of tidal basin response to accelerating sea-level rise and are useful for sustainable management of tidal inlet systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: sea-level rise; Wadden Sea; intertidal flat; aggregated modelling sea-level rise; Wadden Sea; intertidal flat; aggregated modelling
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lodder, Q.J.; Wang, Z.B.; Elias, E.P.L.; van der Spek, A.J.F.; de Looff, H.; Townend, I.H. Future Response of the Wadden Sea Tidal Basins to Relative Sea-Level rise—An Aggregated Modelling Approach. Water 2019, 11, 2198. https://doi.org/10.3390/w11102198

AMA Style

Lodder QJ, Wang ZB, Elias EPL, van der Spek AJF, de Looff H, Townend IH. Future Response of the Wadden Sea Tidal Basins to Relative Sea-Level rise—An Aggregated Modelling Approach. Water. 2019; 11(10):2198. https://doi.org/10.3390/w11102198

Chicago/Turabian Style

Lodder, Quirijn J.; Wang, Zheng B.; Elias, Edwin P.L.; van der Spek, Ad J.F.; de Looff, Harry; Townend, Ian H. 2019. "Future Response of the Wadden Sea Tidal Basins to Relative Sea-Level rise—An Aggregated Modelling Approach" Water 11, no. 10: 2198. https://doi.org/10.3390/w11102198

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