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Theme Project 6: Natural processes of nature-based SALTISolutions


Nature-based solutions make use of the inherent dynamics of the coupled ecological-physical system. Here we investigate the underlying natural processes, supporting the design and operation of these solutions, which is the topic of project 7. Our focus is on two types of processes impacting the effects of salt intrusion in the estuarine (eco)system: (i) estuarine sand wave morphodynamics and (ii) vegetation-driven biomorphodynamics in wetlands. We develop knowledge and modelling tools necessary to assess the effects of nature-based solutions on ecosystem services (fresh water supply, navigation, safety against flooding, biodiversity) and their impact on climate resilience for both today’s and future hydrodynamic/storm conditions together with our end-users.

Project description

Utilisation of project 6 occurs both directly and indirectly. Directly, by making modelling tools available to the user community. And indirectly, through its interaction with project 7, which is focused on the design and operation of Nature-based SALTISolutions. The tools developed in WP6.1 and WP6.2, to be aggregated in WP6.3, will thus be applied to assess the effects of the measures designed to achieve healthy estuaries in project 7.

Nature-based SALTISolutions aiming to increase mixing to mitigate large salt plumes are attractive measures. Apart from decreasing salt plume development, they may also provide additional ecosystem services, e.g. navigation, flood protection. It is important to have insight in the effectiveness of the measure as well as its future development (estuary with measure) so that maintenance can be optimized. We develop 3D visualizations that can convey our results to stakeholders and the general public (e.g.:

Work packages and research questions

This project aims to develop knowledge on the dynamics of estuarine sand waves (WP6.1) and vegetation driven tidal landscaping (WP6.2), both autonomously and in response to human intervention. A further challenge (addressed in WP6.3 a,b) is to aggregate the knowledge and deliver process-based understanding of ecomorphodynamic evolution of estuaries subject to Nature-based SALTISolutions (project 7).

Project deliverables

  • Nonlinear morphodynamic model for estuarine sand wave evolution, capable of evaluation dredging scenarios, particularly regarding its vertical mixing capability
  • Description of how vegetation responds to salt intrusion, including salinity thresholds for specific plant species
  • Spatially explicit model of vegetation-driven tidal landscaping development following salt intrusion (events)
  • A modelling framework to evaluate estuarine development and salt intrusion affected by Nature-Based SALTISolutions, under a changing climate, serving as input for the Virtual Delta (project 9)

Project leader

Prof. dr. S.J.M.H. Hulscher


Dr. P.C. Roos

Dr. B.W. Borsje

Prof. Dr. J. van de Koppel

PhD candidates & Postdocs

W.M. van der Sande

E. Saccon

Rutger Siemes

Contact details

Prof. dr. S.J.M.H. Hulscher


Last modified: 14/09/2021