Sediments matter

Deltas need sediment to keep up with sea level rise and land subsidence. Researchers at the Water, Climate and Future Deltas (WCFD) hub work to understand sediment behaviour and look for sustainable strategies to manage sediment. There is already a lot of knowledge, but it is difficult to understand sediment dynamics in an integrated manner at the delta scale and beyond, which is one of the challenges the WCFD hub is committed to. 

a toy bucket and scoop

The building blocks of deltas 

Sediments are important building blocks for deltas, but sediment supply to deltas worldwide is declining which raises serious concerns. The causes of this decline are dam construction, land use change and other anthropogenic interventions in the river catchment.

Sediment is not just valuable bio-physical matter, but also a challenge for delta management

As deltas are open systems that receive water and sediment from the upstream catchment, sustainably managing deltas requires transboundary river governance. In addition, sediment problems are always coupled to issues of water safety, economic activities and nature. Maarten Kleinhans, professor of rivers and estuaries, says: "This makes sediment not just valuable bio-physical matter, but also a challenge for delta management." 

Drowning deltas 

Many of the deltas that receive insufficient sediment are on the verge of reaching a tipping point: at which the drowning of deltas – or parts of them – starts and cannot easily be reversed. Integrated sedimentation strategies are therefore needed, together with the institutional backing to ensure their implementation and with scientific commitment to support this.

Researchers at the WCFD hub investigate what happens with sediment in the delta when sediment delivery changes and seek sustainable strategies for sediment management.

Global picture
Follow the sediment
Sedimentation strategies
Future challenges
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