The Scheldt estuary: an overview of the morphodynamics of intertidal areas
Schepers, L.; Maris, T.; Meire, P.; Temmerman, S. (2018). The Scheldt estuary: an overview of the morphodynamics of intertidal areas, in: Demoulin, A. (Ed.) Landscapes and landforms of Belgium and Luxembourg. pp. 281-296. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-58239-9_17
Along the Scheldt estuary, intertidal areas such as intertidal flats and intertidal marshes have important functions including flood water storage, water quality regulation and provision of important habitats. The functioning of intertidal marshes is determined by short-term geomorphic processes: the marshes are regularly flooded and sediments are deposited on the marsh surface, a process through which marshes gain elevation. The spatial patterns and rates of sedimentation on marshes are mainly governed by temporal and spatial variations in tidal characteristics and flow patterns, which are strongly influenced by marsh vegetation, leading to a micro-topography typical for tidal marshes. Strong human modifications of the Scheldt estuary by embankments, channelization and dredging have been increasing the tidal range, especially in the more upstream regions. As part of an integrated management plan for the Scheldt estuary—the so-called Sigmaplan in Flanders, new intertidal areas have been created and more than 2000 ha are planned to be ready by 2030. This intertidal flat and marsh creation is realized in some cases as flood control areas with a reduced tidal exchange between the estuary and the flood control area, where the geomorphologic processes are comparable to natural marshes, although we note some important differences.