Scientific scope

Worldwide, deltas are focal points of global change. Situated at low-elevation coasts with high population density, rapid subsidence, and sediment starvation, deltas are exceptionally vulnerable to sea level rise, extreme weather events, salinization, and water supply problems. Even if the world succeeds in keeping global climate change under control, sustainable management of deltas will require extensive adaptation measures in order to cope with the local pressures and ongoing changes. This poses an urgent need to quantify how deltas change, unravel the impact of these changes, and improve modelling and system understanding to regain predictive power.

Delta ENIGMA will turn the Dutch Delta into a world-leading ‘supersite’ for research on delta biogeomorphology under climate change. This will be achieved by realizing a delta-scale distributed observation and research facility focusing on four major objectives:

  1. Unravelling the biogeomorphologic processes that build deltas, in an integrated perspective on the coupled river-estuary-coast system
  2. Moving biogeomorphology of deltas into the era of big-data as a crucial step towards developing a new generation of predictive models
  3. Quantifying the importance of extreme events in the biogeomorphologic shaping of deltas under climate change
  4. Providing the basis for improved management of deltas worldwide, including the application of nature-based solutions that need to be rooted in deep system understanding