Morphology of the Wadden Sea Natural Processes and Human Interference

by J. Ehlers, Geologisches Landesamt, Hamburg, Germany,
H. Kunz, Geologisches Landesamt, Hamburg, Germany,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastlines of the Southern North Sea


The Wadden Sea can be subdivided in three morphodynamic units: the tidal flats, the inlets and the barrier islands. The deeply incised tidal inlets are the most active of these units; their lateral displacement caused what has become known as 'island migration' in popular literature. The larger tidal streams of the inner German Bight (between Jade Bight and The North Frisian Islands) are equivalents of the inlets of the barrier coast, being more mobile than the latter. Coast-parallel sand transport is largely restricted to the seaward side of the barrier. Today, coast lateral sediment movement does almost exclusively take place through the tidal inlets. Overwash processes on the islands are prevented by sand dikes and dune protection. Especially the highly developed barrier islands with their holiday resorts are protected by coastal engineering structures and beach nourishment. Future development should be in closer agreement with the demands of coastal protection and nature conservation.

Subject Headings: Coastal processes | Seas and oceans | Human and behavioral factors | Tides | Islands | Inlets (waterway) | Sand (hydraulic) | Sandy soils | Wadden Sea

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