The land is sinking
The Netherlands thought it had won the battle against water: the Delta Works were completed, the Zuiderzee became the IJsselmeer and the largest rivers were tamed with dikes and dams. Water is imprisoned in asphalt, steel, basalt and concrete, but the cost of maintenance is rising by the day. At the same time, the Netherlands is sinking, due, among other things, to intensive draining, and natural processes such as silting and peat formation that have been halted.
The sea is rising
According to IPCC climate experts, the sea level has never risen this rapidly in such a short time. As a result, it is becoming increasingly difficult in the Netherlands to let rivers, storage basins and the IJsselmeer drain freely into the sea. This is particularly true during the combination of north-westerly gales and heavy precipitation, which is occurring more and more frequently.
Another danger is emerging during dry periods. When river levels are low, increasing amounts of salt will find their way into the rivers because of the rising sea level. The shallow groundwater also becomes brackish. This is already a major problem for a number of water companies and arable farming.
Wetter and drier
Extreme precipitation is causing more and more flooding in river and stream basins, with damage to built-up areas, farming, etc. In cities, severe rainfall results in flooded basements, tunnels and overflowing sewer systems.
On the other hand, increasingly smaller glaciers in the Alps and longer dry spells in the summer are causing more droughts. A decrease in water drainage of 60% is conceivable! In this scenario, the Waal river could almost be crossed on foot.
Cities are urban heat islands: buildings absorb heat and break the cooling wind. During a heat wave, for example, the London city centre can be 9ºC warmer than the surrounding area. In combination with higher air pollution during hot periods, this results in additional incidences of death. Higher temperatures in water bodies increase the possibility of botulism and blue-green algae. The distribution area of animal and plant species will move northward. However, not all species succeed in keeping pace with the changes.