Hotspot Wadden Sea
The Wadden Sea, the world’s largest intertidal and barrier island system, is characterised by high spatial and temporal variability. The Wadden ecosystem already seems to be significantly changing under the influence of the climate, in particular as a result of increasing temperatures. Seal numbers are currently rapidly increasing, flatfish are disappearing, some bird numbers are increasing whilst others are decreasing and, despite soil subsidence and sea level rises, the Wadden area is becoming shallower. In addition to the effect of decreased nutrient loads and fishing, climate change already seems to be resulting in major shifts in the ecosystem and it is expected that, in the case of further temperature increases, changes to the freshwater supply, shifting wind patterns and sea level rises, the effects will significantly influence the sustainable maintenance and use of the Wadden Sea and the surrounding coastal area.
A changing climate will have a significant influence on the development of and people’s attitudes to natural areas, the use of natural resources and security in the area. Future changes in the climate are obviously also very important to the Dutch coastline. The Wadden area, with a surface area of 2400 km2, is a relatively resilient section of the Dutch coast. The shallows form a sizeable buffer in which, until now, there has been room for a variety of functions. The question, however, is just how resilient and sustainable this buffer is.
To carry out research in the area and to generate practical knowledge regarding the Wadden ecosystem.
The themes are:
the Wadden Sea as climate and safety buffer: the influence on and the relationship with coastal and nature conservation
changes in the Wadden Sea food web and ecosystem
the influence of a changing climate on economic activities in the area, e.g. recreation (tourism), fishing and aquaculture