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Impact of climate change and human intervention on hydrodynamics
and environmental conditions in the Ems-Dollart estuary:
an integrated data-modelling approach

NWO-BMBF project 839.11.004

Prof. dr. H.E. de Swart - Dr. T. Badewien - Dr. H.M. Schuttelaars - Prof. dr. E. Stanev


International Press Release: kick-off meeting Future_Ems project
on March 6+7, 2012, Delmenhorst, Germany

The future of the Ems-Dollart estuary – tackling environmental degradation

The Ems-Dollart estuary is of high ecologic and economic value to the neighboring regions in both the Netherlands and Germany. During the past decades, the environmental conditions in the Ems-Dollart have rapidly degraded/worsened, such as an increased load of suspended matter and an increase in tidal range. As a consequence, the risk of storm floods seawards the weir at Gandersum has increased, harbors and channels have increasingly silted up and the ecologic value has decreased.
In a bilateral and multi-disciplinary project, researchers from the Netherlands and Germany and a variety of disciplines, such as oceanography, mathematics, geochemistry and biology, will collaborate in order to advance the knowledge of the system substantially and provide new tools for addressing practical key problems. The project aims at developing a model with which the behaviour of the Ems can be simulated in great detail. This tool will be subsequently used to stimulate debate between scientists and decision makers on designing proper, cheap and environmentally friendly measures aimed at improving the ecologic value of the system, while maintaining its important role for the local economy.
The project “Impact of climate change and human intervention on hydrodynamics and environmental conditions in the Ems-Dollart estuary: an integrated data-modelling approach” started in December 2011 and will last for four years. During this period, the researchers will collect new environmental data, integrate existing data as well as advance and extend a numerical model of the system. This improved model will be used to assess the response of the Ems-Dollart system ‘s characteristics, such as water motion, sediment, oxygen and phytoplankton concentrations, to both climate change (i.e. sea level rise, changes in storm statistics and tidal conditions) and human intervention. In addition, simple models will be used to advance the understanding of key processes in the Ems.
The project is funded by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The project budget amounts to 500,000 Euro.
The kick-off meeting of the project “Future-Ems” is going to take place at the Institute for Advance Study (Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg) in Delmenhorst (Germany) on February 6 and 7, 2012. 
The partners involved are:

  • Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research at Utrecht University (Huib de Swart),
  • Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM) at the University of Oldenburg (Thomas Badewien),
  • Delft Institute of Applied Mathematics/Mathematical Physics at Delft University of Technology (Henk Schuttelaars),
  • Institute for Coastal Research at the Geesthacht Centre for Materials and Coastal Research (HZG) (Emil Stanev),
  • JRG Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Erosion, Cluster of Excellence 'The Future Ocean’ and Institute of Geosciences at Kiel University (Kerstin Schrottke),
  • Water Engineering and Management Department at the University of Twente (Pieter Roos),
  • Marine Sedimentology at Senckenberg am Meer, Wilhlemshaven (Alexander Bartholomä) and
  • Bundesanstalt für Gewässerkunde, Koblenz (Andreas Schöl).

Contact (kick-off meeting):
Dr. Thomas Badewien, ICBM University of Oldenburg,
Phone:  +49 441 798 8240



The estuarine research group is part of the research group Coastal and Shelf Sea Dynamics of the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, Utrecht (IMAU).  The IMAU is part of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Utrecht, Netherlands. 



Contact Info:    

Institute for Marine and

Atmospheric Studies, Utrecht
Utrecht University
PO Box 80005
3508 TA Utrecht
The Netherlands

Huib de Swart

Phone: (+31/0) 030 253 3275
Fax: (+31/0) 030 254 3163



last modified: March 12, 2012