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

The kick-off meeting of the project "Future-Ems” is going to take place at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg in Delmenhorst (Germany) on March 6 and 7, 2012.


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, geology 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 debates 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”  (Future-Ems) 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 transport and deposition, 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 Federal Ministry of Education and Research (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 March 6 and 7, 2012. 

The partners involved are:

  • Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University (Huib de Swart),
  • Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM), University of Oldenburg (Thomas Badewien),
  • Delft Institute of Applied Mathematics/Mathematical Physics, Delft University of Technology (Henk Schuttelaars),
  • Institute for Coastal Research, 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, Kiel University (Kerstin Schrottke),
  • Water Engineering and Management Department, University of Twente (Pieter Roos),
  • Marine Sedimentology, Senckenberg am Meer, Wilhelmshaven (Alexander Bartholomä)  
  • Bundesanstalt für Gewässerkunde, Koblenz (Andreas Schöl).

Contact (kick-off meeting):

Dr. Thomas Badewien, ICBM University of Oldenburg, Phone:  +49 441 798 8240, e-mail: badewien[at]