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Theme Project 5: Impacts of Climate Change


To timely develop water management policies and implement mitigating measures, the ability to forecast future (decadal time scale and beyond) salt intrusion resulting from climate change is of great importance. In this project, different salt intrusion models will be forced with downscaled results from large-scale climate models to generate a set of region-specific scenarios relevant for decision making.

Project description

The long-term development of salt intrusion in estuaries due to natural variability and under climate change is an important issue. The problem addressed here is to understand the processes controlling these long-term changes and to develop reliable projections of the statistics of salt intrusion. The results of these projections will be used in project 9 and eventually will help to develop efficient mitigation measures.

The main scientific challenges in this project are to understand (i) the decadal changes in salt intrusion as a response to changing forcing conditions, (ii) develop models to adequately capture this response, (iii) use these models to provide projections of future salt intrusion situations to help develop adequate long-term ‘climate-proof’ mitigation measures. In WP 5.1, we focus on the sensitivity of the transient response of salt- intrusion to slow changes in external forcing (tidal changes, sea level change, fresh-water variability). In WP5.2 we address the issue of making projections of future salt intrusion according to IPCC-AR5/AR6 climate change scenarios and study the effects of human interventions.

Work packages and research questions

The project consists of two work packages WP 5.1 and WP 5.2 that cover all aspects described above.

Project deliverables

  • 2DV model to study long-term natural variability in the statistics of salt intrusions (WP 5.1).
  • Downscaled forcing data from climate model simulations for all versions of the salt-intrusion model (WP5.2).
  • Projections of changes in salt intrusion statistics over the next decades, based on the 1D and 2DV models in the RM-estuary under different climate change scenarios (WP5.2).

Project leader

Prof. dr. ir. H. A. Dijkstra


Prof. dr. H.E. de Swart

PhD candidates & Postdocs

Bouke Biemond

Contact details

Prof. dr. ir. H. A. Dijkstra

Utrecht University


Last modified: 14/09/2021