December 5, 2021

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The Wadden region is threatened by sea level rise |  NOS

The Wadden region is threatened by sea level rise | NOS

Projected sea-level rise could have dire consequences for the Wadden Sea. Elevation can permanently submerge mudflats. If that happened, everything based on those mudflats would disappear.

This is the view of Katja Philipart, director of the Wadden Academy, professor at Utrecht University and researcher at NIOZ. Many species of oysters and worms can be found in Wadden, which in turn are food for migratory birds. “For those birds, this area is essential to be able to withstand their long flights,” said Philipart.

Mud flats can grow as sea level rises. The only question is whether growth can keep pace with the expected increase.

More threats

from sea ​​level rise He is not the only threat to Waden. In recent years, heat waves in particular seem to be a problem. In summer, with little easterly winds and high temperatures, the tidal flats that dry out for much longer heat up rapidly, killing oysters and reducing the food of the animals that depend on them.

In addition, in increasingly frequent periods of drought, more and more places in the Netherlands are trying to hold water for a longer time on the land. But since the Wadden Sea also depends on fresh water supplies, this is not suitable for a nature reserve. “All of these projects to keep more water are being carried out on their backs in the Wadden Sea,” says Katja Philipart.

two degrees

Over the past century, the Wadden Sea and the North Sea have become two degrees warmer, adds NOS forecaster Peter Kuipers Monecki. “This means that the warming of the Wadden Sea is in line with global warming. However, the Wadden Sea is warming faster than seas around the world on average.”

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