The Ems estuary has a surplus of mud which disrupts the ecosystem. The high turbidity of the estuary hinders algae growth at the bottom of the food chain. A large-scale international measuring campaign was organized to gain more knowledge about the processes affecting the turbidity of the Ems estuary. The study was led by Rijkswaterstaat (Dutch national water authority) and coordinated by Royal HaskoningDHV in corporation with other parties involved. The acquired knowledge can be used worldwide to keep estuaries and their ecosystems healthy.

High turbidity disrupts the ecosystem

The surplus of mud in the Ems estuary leads to a high turbidity and disrupts the ecosystem. Due to a decrease in light penetration in the water algae growth is hindered. Hence, less food is available for growth of bottom life and fish.

To be able to determine the effectiveness of large-scale measures to reduce the turbidity in the estuary, knowledge is required about the complex processes in the transition zone from the Ems river towards the UNESCO listed Wadden Sea.

Coordination of the international measurement campaign

A largescale field campaign was organised to gain more knowledge about the processes that affect the turbidity in the Ems estuary. This study is part of the Ems-Dollard 2050 program in which authorities, companies and nature organisations work together to improve the nature, economy and quality of life in the area. In the field campaign, 13-hour measurements took place from multiple ships in both summer and winter. Hereby, different government agencies and research institutes from The Netherlands, Germany and the United States were involved. Focus of the research lies on how mud behaves at the transition from fresh river water to salt sea water. The study was led by Rijkswaterstaat and coordinated by Royal HaskoningDHV in corporation with other parties involved.

Better management of estuaries worldwide

The research project has gained attention from researchers in both the United States and England. The acquired knowledge can be used worldwide to keep estuaries and their ecosystems healthy.