Vulnerable deltas, difficult choices

Deltas are economic and environ-mental hot spots. They are very fertile, strategic sites with rich ecosystems. But deltas are vulnerable to flooding and drought, especially in the face of climate change.

Deltas are similar in lots of ways, but its the differences that are most interesting. Thats where there's the most to be learned.

There are dozens of large deltas in the world and most of them are densely populated. Throughout the centuries, people have made use of the riches available in these wetland areas, with their unique combination of salt and fresh water. They have adapted to nature and fought against it, which is how rice paddies came into being, as did fisheries, dams and dikes, floating dwellings and villages on artificial mounds. It has become clear that we need to know a great deal more about these areas, as climate change is starting to have a major impact on them. In fact, governments are sometimes faced with impossible choices: do we raise the height of the dikes to cope with higher sea levels in future, or would we be better off retreating to higher land? What measures can be taken when planning an area to accommodate climate change, and where is the infrastructure vulnerable? read more »

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Article information

This is an abstract of an article, published in the magazine Deltas in times of climate change.

Author of this article
Ria de Wit


Dr Marcel Marchand
Coastal Zone Management Specialist/ Advisor, Deltares

Ir Wim van Driel
Delta Alliance Programme Manager