Adapting to climate change: the self learning dike

Arjen Ysbert Hoekstra, Jean-Luc de Kok

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A problem with the current probabilistic flood prevention strategy in the Netherlands is that it builds on knowledge about the probability distributions for extreme discharges, which are subject to considerable uncertainties due to limited peak discharge records and climate change. It is inherent to this strategy that the actions taken to reduce the flood risk are not anticipatory but following. In the historic flood prevention strategy (practised until the 1950s), referred to as the ‘self-learning dike’, the dike height is kept at a level equal to the highest recorded water level in history plus a certain safety margin. The two flood-prevention strategies are compared on the basis of the average flooding safety during a 100-year period, with the Rhine River at Lobith taken as case example. The results indicate that the self-learning dike performs as well, even slightly better, as the probabilistic design in terms of safety and reasonably in terms of the size and number of adaptations of the dike height, even under climate change.
Original languageUndefined
Title of host publicationProceedings NCR-days 2006. 2-4 November 2006, Enschede. NCR-publication 31-2007
EditorsDionysius C.M. Augustijn, A.G. van Os
Place of PublicationDelft
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2007
EventNCR-days 2006 - Enschede, Netherlands
Duration: 2 Nov 20063 Nov 2006

Publication series

NameNCR publication 31-2007


ConferenceNCR-days 2006


  • METIS-239031
  • IR-67883

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