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Transitional polders along estuaries: driving land-level rise and reducing flood propagation
Weisscher, S.; Baar, A.W.; van Belzen, J.; Bouma, T.J.; Kleinhans, M.G. (2022). Transitional polders along estuaries: driving land-level rise and reducing flood propagation. Nature-Based Solutions 2: 100022.
In: Nature-Based Solutions. Elsevier: New York. ISSN 2772-4115, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Transitional polders; Estuary management; Land-level rise; Reduced flood propagation

Authors  Top 
  • Weisscher, S.
  • Baar, A.W.
  • van Belzen, J., more
  • Bouma, T.J., more
  • Kleinhans, M.G., more

    Dikes are the conventional means of flood defence along rivers and estuaries. However, dikes gradually lead to the superelevation of waterbodies compared to the subsiding embanked areas, resulting in a rapidly increasing unstable situation under sea-level rise. Therefore, future flood management requires new, sustainable strategies that not only minimise flood risk, but also steer land-level rise. An example is a transitional polder, where a dike-protected area is temporarily reopened to the tide to capture sediment until it has risen well above mean sea-level, after which it could be returned to its original function. This study explores how the sequence of opening transitional polders affects sediment capture and large-scale estuary dynamics through 2D modelling in Delft3D. To this end, different opening sequences were tested along a large estuary, using the Western Scheldt (NL) as an example. Findings show land-level rise in all permutations. However, polders opened later in an opening sequence temporarily experience a lag in muddy sediment capture, most likely due to a deficit in fines. Opening more upstream located polders alone or at the start of an opening sequence generally causes a stronger reduction in mean tidal range than opening more downstream located polders. This is explained by increased friction due to (1) locally added intertidal width and (2) shallowing of the main channels because of increased flood dominance. An upstream-to-downstream opening sequence caused the greatest reduction in mean tidal range, but this is negligible compared to the increase in tidal range due to historic dredging within the estuary for navigational purposes. Further work is needed to determine how dredging, closure of transitional polders and storm surges may negate this benefit to flood safety.

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