Thematic Interdisciplinary Challenge (TIC)

Drowning Deltas

Deltas worldwide are under pressure due to sea-level rise. Meanwhile deltas are sinking relative to sea water level due to human induced soil subsidence (sinking) and a reduction in sediment supply by the major rivers. When we think about the future of the Dutch delta we tend to only think about technical reactive measures to maintain the Netherlands as it is in its current state. But what if relative sea-level rise will further increase beyond the point that sustaining a ‘dry’ delta is no longer feasible? To cite Peter Kuipers Munneke: “The question is not if the Netherlands will disappear below water, but when”.  This challenge aimed to explore what opportunities lie beyond the horizon when deltaic areas are forced to transition to a ‘wet’ or ‘drowned’ stage. What new opportunities may arise from extreme relative sea-level rise? What will be the consequences for living in the Netherlands? And how can we educate and involve both government and inhabitants in learning to deal with these changes? What can we learn from other deltas worldwide about possible ‘drowned’ ecosystems, ecosystem services and land uses?