Action perspectives on climate extremes in the Dutch river system: system-level impacts and mitigation strategies

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Worldwide climate change affects the Dutch
deltaic river system: recent dry years led to
(extremely) low discharges in summer, while an
extreme rainfall event in the summer of 2021 led
to large-scale flooding in the Meuse catchment.
Increased sea level rise (SLR) will in turn cause
higher water levels reaching further upstream,
higher closing frequencies of storm surge
barriers and reduced discharge capacities of
sea locks. As the Dutch delta is densely
populated, such negative impacts of climate
change will lead to large socio-economic
impacts. Understanding how climate change
influences the Dutch river system in the long
term (> 2100) is thus important to timely adapt
to these developments.
Recent publication of the new climate
scenarios by the KNMI shows that climate
change will continue to affect the climate in the
Netherlands. Overall, in all scenarios the
precipitation in summers will decrease, while
winters will become wetter (KNMI, 2023).
Additionally, long term land-use developments,
driven by climate change and population
growth, will effect runoff towards rivers. This all
inevitably impacts the discharge regime of the
Rhine and Meuse, as well as the lateral inflow
to these rivers. Alongside, SLR is expected to
increase and accelerate, with extreme
scenarios of up to 8 meters SLR by 2300 (KNMI,
Besides future developments,
interventions in the past still impact the river
system. An example is the ongoing bed
degradation in the river Waal due to
normalisation works in the past century, which
influences the discharge distribution at one of
the main bifurcations (Klijn et al., 2022). This
bed degradation will continue in the future (Ylla
Arbós et al., 2023).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2024
EventNCR Days 2024: Tomorrow's Rivers - Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands
Duration: 28 Feb 202429 Feb 2024


ConferenceNCR Days 2024
Internet address


  • Climate extremes
  • River Systems
  • Uncertainty


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