Hotspot Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea, the world’s largest intertidal and barrier island system, is characterised by a high spatial and temporal variability. The Wadden ecosystem already seems to be changing significantly under the influence of the climate, in particular as a result of increasing temperatures. Seal numbers are currently increasing rapidly, 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, major shifts in the ecosystem are observed and it is expected that, in the case of further temperature increases, changes to the freshwater supply, shifting wind patterns and sea level rise, 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 the water 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.

Objective
The objective of this hotspot was to carry out research on climate change in the Wadden area and to generate practical knowledge regarding the Wadden ecosystem.

The themes were:

    • The Wadden Sea as a climate and water 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

Projects and Publications
List with all Wadden Sea publications

More information can be found on the Wadden Academy website and the Delta Programme website.