Dutch prepare for rising seas

Holland is to invest 750m euros in upgrading its flood defences as it prepares for the consequences of climate change and rising sea levels.

The Afsluitdijk dike, a 30-km dam created to prevent flooding and to re-claim land from the sea, will be adapted to allow for stronger fluctuations in sea level, Dutch officials said as they prepared to celebrate the dam’s 75th anniversary on Thursday.

“We plan to invest up to 750 million euros to strengthen the Afsluitdijk,” said Hans Vos, senior adviser to the Dutch Transport and Public Works Ministry.

The giant 7.5m-high dam was completed in 1932, closing off a lake now known as IJsselmeer from the sea. As the climate changes, with summers much drier and winters wetter now than they were 75 years ago, there is a growing need to regulate the water level in the IJsselmeer.

When water levels in the inland lake rise, sluices allow water to be let out into the North Sea. Adding more sluices is one of the strategies for adapting the dike to rising flood risk. Engineers are also considering raising the dike to 10 metres and widening it to 125 metres in places.

With two-thirds of the country lying below sea level, the Netherlands is particularly threatened by the rising sea levels and weather variations brought on by climate change.

Goska Romanowicz

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