Anna Zorndt, Nils Goseberg, Torsten Schlurmann


The hydrodynamics of estuaries are forced by the tides from the open sea and the river runoff from the catchment area. The hinterland is often low-lying and densely populated and must therefore be protected by dikes. Anthropogenic climate change poses new challenges to the coastal protection. However, changes in the geometry of the estuaries can have equally severe impacts on the deformation of a storm surge wave form when it propagates through the estuary. This affects the peak water levels and hence the design water levels. This contribution focuses on the influence of retention areas or forelands seaside of the main dike lines, which are protected by summer dikes against the less severe but more frequently occurring storm surges. This is shown at the example of a retention area in the Weser estuary, which has historically been the cite of a soccer stadium and thus hosts high values which stand in sharp contrast against the low safety level against flooding. The investigation is conducted with a 3D hydrodynamic numerical model which has previously been validated for the simulation of storm surges. The results show that even very small changes in the geometry of the estuary can have effects on design levels. This is even the case when they only regard the summer dike crests heights around retention areas and not their volume. Another important finding is that the geometry changes may have their maximum impacts quite far away from the specific river reach in which they are carried out. The results underline that for designing safe and reliable storm surge infrastructure, storm events should be studied in high resolution models which are able to resolve even small scale features such as summer dike lines.


Weser estuary; retention areas; storm surges; design water levels

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