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Approach for ecomorphological modelling of


mega-nourishments along
the Holland coast

Approach for eco-morphological


modelling of mega-nourishments
along the Holland coast
Assessment of tools and approach for multi-scale modelling
HK4.1 Long-term sustainable development Holland Coast

Bas Huisman
Arjen Luijendijk

1200893-000

Deltares, 2010

Title

Approach for eco-morphological modelling of mega-nourishments along the Holland coast


Client

Project

Reference

Pages

Ecoshape

1200893-000

1200893-000-HYE-0005

44

Queries

Building with Nature, Model comparison, Mega nourishment, Long-term modelling, ecomorphology
Summary

In this document the suitability for long-term eco-morphological simulations is assessed for a
number of numerical models. Specifications for the review of these models were made, which
were based on the differing requirements for distinct spatial regions along the coast of
Holland (like uniform beaches). It was found that no model can handle all the requirements
that were defined. Instead a number of models can cover most issues. Although there is lack
of aeolian sediment transport models and ecological models that include feedback between
ecology and hydrodynamics/morphology. Furthermore, more knowledge should become
available on ecological processes. Besides the capabilities of the models there are some
practical aspects that are of importance for long-term modelling, like computational effort,
robustness of models, difficulties to couple models and availability of trained staff.
From the evaluation of the models and discussions with specialists on numerical
morphological modelling, it was decided to develop a system of coupled models enabling an
integrated, flexible technique to cover the effects of small-scale interventions on a larger
spatial and time scale. The core of the coupled system will be Delft3D, as a meganourishment is initially an intervention with a complex geometry along the coast. A coastline
model (UNIBEST-CL+) will be coupled in areas with uniform beaches to cover larger spatial
and temporal scales, while on the other hand XBeach can provide bed changes after a storm
period. The long-term impact of measures on the intertidal flats in the Marsdiep estuary can
be modelled with the ASMITA model.
References

Versie Datum

Auteur

dec. 2010 Bas Huisman


Arjen Luijendijk

Paraaf Review

Z.B. Wang

Paraaf Goedkeuring

Paraaf

T. Minns

State

draft
This is a draft report, intended for discussion purposes only. No part of this report may be
relied upon by either principals or third parties.

1200893-000-HYE-0005, 2 December 2010, draft

Contents
1 Introduction
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Readers guide

1
1
1

2 Specifications
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Characteristic areas
2.2.1 Open coast
2.2.2 Estuaries and tidal lagoons
2.2.3 Structures
2.3 Model related specifications

3
3
3
4
7
9
10

3 Overview of tools and models


3.1 Model description and evaluation
3.1.1 ASMITA model
3.1.2 Delft3D
3.1.3 DUROS
3.1.4 DUROSTA
3.1.5 ESTMORF
3.1.6 Habitat
3.1.7 PONTOS
3.1.8 UNIBEST-TC
3.1.9 XBeach
3.1.10 Design formulae and expert judgement

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13
13
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15
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17
18
20
20
21

4 Comparison of models
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Model evaluation
4.3 Model comparison

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25

5 Modelling Approach for Eco-morphological modelling


5.1 Application of models
5.2 Spatial coupling
5.3 Temporal coupling
5.4 Relevant evaluation parameters to consider

29
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32

6 Conclusions and recommendations


6.1 Findings of the model evaluation
6.2 Conclusion
6.3 Activities 2011

33
33
34
34

References

35

Appendix A : Model characteristics

37

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1 Introduction
1.1

Introduction
Within the framework of the project Building with Nature (abbreviated as BwN), a study is
performed in which available morphological and ecological numerical models are evaluated
and assessed. The main objective of this assessment is to identify the potential and
weaknesses of the considered numerical models to cope with long-term morphological
changes along the Dutch coast.
The current study will provide a starting point for the development of an aggregated
morphological model of the Holland Coast (work packages HK2, HK3.3 and NTW3.2). This
model is aimed at enabling the analysis of large-scale morphological developments and
different maintenance strategies for large scale nourishments and sand mining, which will
be studied in work packages EDD1 and HK3.1. Another aspect of BwN that is closely related
to the current study is the aim to develop a habitat- and vegetation model, enabling the
translation of large scale morphological model forecasts into (ecological) habitat effects and
incorporation of vegetation feedbacks on morphological developments at different time scales
(linked to the work package HK2.4 and HK3.3). This report has the following aims:

1.2

to provide insight in the relevant physical phenomena along the Holland coast and make
a categorization of the different types of coast (Chapter 2).
Assess the available coastal morphological and ecological modelling tools for each of
these regions (Chapter 3).
Discuss the match/mismatch between the available tools and the required tools and
provide insight into suitable modelling approaches (Chapter 4).

Readers guide
Specifications of the (numerical) morphological models are described in Chapter 2. Chapter 3
presents the relevant numerical models briefly and compares them on the basis of the
specifications. An approach is then suggested for the set up of a long-term morphologic and
ecologic model for the Dutch coast (Chapter 4).

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2 Specifications
2.1

Introduction
The area for which models are applied needs to be known before an evaluation of the
numerical models can be made. An approach was therefore chosen that assesses the typical
morphological and ecological characteristics along the coast of Holland (Section 2.2). On the
basis of these characteristics, typical model specifications could be derived. Section 2.3 then
identifies more general specifications, which are relevant beside the area specific (processbased) specifications. The specifications are then used to assess the suitability of available
models for the specific regions (Chapter 3).

2.2

Characteristic areas
The morphological models that are assessed should be able to handle a wide range of
morphological situations along the coast of Holland. For this purpose, an overview is made of
typical features along the coast of Holland. This overview is presented in Figure 2.1. The
following characteristic areas can be distinguished:

Open coast
Estuary / Tidal lagoons
Structures and interventions
Open coast
Estuary / Tidal lagoons
Structures and interventions

Figure 2.1

Typical morphological features along the coast of Holland.

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2.2.1

Open coast
The coastal areas adjacent to the North sea typically have sandy sediment and high energetic
conditions due to wave forcing and tidal flow. A distinction between areas can be made by
categorising areas on the basis of the complexity of the processes in these areas and the
ability of models to cope with the local conditions. The following areas are identified (see
Figure 2.2):

Uniform beach with dunes,


Offshore sand bars (or foreshore suppletions),
Headlands of islands (note that these are not present for Holland coast),
Complex coastal features (like a Zandmotor),
Borrow areas.

borrow area
Uniform beach

Figure 2.2

Complex feature

sand bar

Uniform beach

Illustration of typical areas of the open coast with distinct complexity of the physical
processes.

The areas with least complicated processes are the beaches with dunes that are not too near
to tidal inlets or large interruptions of the coast. These areas are referred to as uniform
beaches. The main processes that are relevant are sediment transport along the coast in
normal conditions and dune erosion during extreme events (erosion only suffices as this is
only used as a one-way check for the safety of the dunes). Besides these items, the
swimming safety might be a relevant parameter. Ecologically the uniform beach can be
characterised by features in cross-shore direction (see Figure 2.3) while the ecological
regions are quite uniform in longshore direction. In general, the ecology is hardly influenced
by coastline changes in the high energetic area of the beach. On the foreshore, however,
there may be a significant influence of the Benthos on the (near bed) hydrodynamics and
morphology (Borsje et al, 2008).
Quite some knowledge is available on the terrestrial ecology and the ecology of the beach
and offshore zone. For the foreshore zone, however, only limited information is available on
the relation between the communities (e.g. fish or bottom fauna like worms and shells) that
live there and the environmental parameters. This has a practical cause as this area is
difficult to survey from land as well as from the sea. In recent years, however, more data have
become available which are mainly stored at Imares. Knowledge is currently developed on
the effect of vegetation, mussel beds and worms on the hydrodynamics (bed roughness).

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Terrestrial
ecology

Low diversity and biomass


- beach fauna
- birds

Moderate diversity
- mussel beds
- some fish
- worms

High diversity &


and high biomass
- mussel beds
- Worms
- fish

NAP-8m
NAP-20m

Dune
Figure 2.3

Beach

Foreshore (banks)

Offshore

Typical ecological zones for a uniform coast.

For some parts of the beaches the cross-shore profile changes can have a significant
influence. This holds especially for sites with offshore sand bars (or foreshore suppletions).
For these situations the behaviour of the cross-shore profile should also be modelled. Both
the erosive and accretive processes need to be included in the cross-shore profile model. In
some situations it is possible to use separate models for the analysis of cross-shore and
longshore sediment transport. Swimming safety is also important for such areas, as sand
bars and offshore suppletions may trigger rip-currents.
The processes are more complicated at the headlands of islands, where the beach gets close
to a tidal inlet. At these locations the sediment transport is not anymore predominantly in
longshore direction or cross-shore direction. A 2D approach is therefore required if detailed
information on the behaviour of these island heads is needed. Swimming safety is not an
issue, as it is never safe to swim close to tidal channels. It is noted that no headlands with
beaches are present for the Holland Coast.
For complex coastal features, for example due to very large suppletions (e.g. Zandmotor), it
will also be necessary to use detailed 2D approach that can determine the migration rates of
such coastal features. A process-based approach is required when the complex coastal
feature is the result of large suppletions, as empirical relations on coastline behaviour can not
be used if the equilibrium situation is not known. Such that these areas become significantly
different from the current situation. For example, it is possible that a dry area with pioneer
vegetation develops on top of the suppletion (see Figure 2.4), provided that sufficient time is
available for the vegetation to develop. The morphological development of the dry zone on
top of the Zandmotor is affected by the vegetation. This means that a realistic model will
require feedback from the morphological model to the ecological model and vice versa.
Another aspect that is expected to be very important for the dry area is the aeolian transport.
Currently, the aeolian transport is not included in any coastal morphological model. A
knowledge gap exists with respect to the aeolian transport of sediment at the interface of dry
and wet areas.
It is furthermore expected that very large suppletions (Zandmotor) may result in
accumulation of fine sediments at the leeward side of the suppletion (see Figure 2.4). As a
result of this, a new ecological zone may develop along the coast. Whether the actual
conditions at the leeward side of a Zandmotor are such that a muddy area can occur is,
however, not yet thoroughly investigated. Forecasting such a development requires the use of

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modelling tools that can handle fine sediment fractions and support feedback from the
ecology to the hydrodynamics and vice versa. Models with interaction between ecology and
hydrodynamics are not yet available. Furthermore, other functions need to be evaluated like
scenery properties and the effect of the complex coastal feature on swimming safety.

Muddy area with salt marsh


vegetation and species

Sea

Dynamic dry sandy area which is low


on nutrients

Land

Figure 2.4

Indicative sketch of possibly relevant ecological zones at a Zandmotor.

Borrow areas, where sediment for suppletions is taken from, are located outside the
Kustfundament (beyond the NAP-20m contour). These areas may have an impact on the
local ecology or other functions like fishery. The most relevant aspect for these areas is the fill
up rate of the borrow pit and the morphological changes due to the sand mining. Furthermore,
migration speed of erosion can be of interest. These areas can be studied in detail with field
models (2D) or more general with empirical relations and analytical models. The requirements
for modelling distinct parts of the open coast are summarised in Table 2.1.
Categories

Uniform beach

Sand bars

Headlands

Complex coastal features

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Technical specifications

Longshore sediment transport (Coastline position / MKL) for normal


conditions.

Cross-shore sediment transport for extreme situations (Dune erosion)


to check safety of the dunes.

Sandy sediment

Longshore and cross-shore sediment transport (coastline position /


MKL and profile development) for normal conditions.

Cross-shore sediment transport for extreme situations (Dune erosion)

Sandy sediment

Impact of the fauna (Benthos) at the sand bars on sediment transport.

Swimming safety

Complex two dimensional effects on sediment transport (no distinct


longshore and crosshore components) for normal and extreme
conditions (dune erosion)

Sandy sediment

Complex two dimensional effects on sediment transport (no distinct


longshore and crosshore components) for normal and extreme
conditions

Sandy and fine sediments (mud)

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Sand mining pit


Table 2.1

2.2.2

Interaction between ecology and hydrodynamics


Wind transport (Aeolian transport)
Swimming safety
Scenery properties
Morphological development / filling up and shifting (two dimensional)
Disturbance to environment (Benthos and fish)

Relevant technical specifications for parts of the open coast

Estuaries and tidal lagoons


Estuaries and tidal lagoons can be found in the Waddenzee and South-Western delta of the
Netherlands. These areas are sheltered from the open sea by Islands or shoals, which
reduces the influence of wave energy. However, the tide is very important as the estuaries fill
up and empty through tidal channels, in which large flow velocities can occur in the
entrances. The sediment inside the estuaries ranges from coarse sand in the tidal channels to
medium sized sand and mud on the inter-tidal flats. The following typical areas are pinpointed
if a distinction is made on the basis of the complexity of the processes (like in the previous
section). The following areas are identified (see Figure 2.5):

Ebb tidal delta,


Tidal channels,
Sandy inter-tidal flats (zand platen),
Muddy inter-tidal flats (slikken),
Salt marshes (schorren or kwelders),

Ebb tidal delta

Salt marshes

tidal channels

Sandy flats

Muddy flats

Figure 2.5

Illustration of typical areas inside estuaries with distinct complexity of the physical
processes.

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The ebb tidal delta is the part of the estuary that is located seaward from the tidal inlet. The
size of the ebb tidal delta is directly related to the tidal prism (amount of water going in and
out of the system in every tidal cycle) which is determined by the size of the tidal lagoon. Ebb
tidal deltas consist of sandy inter-tidal flats or sand bars and a submerged bar at the outside
of the ebb tidal delta, which functions as a wave shield. The system is very dynamic and sand
bars often migrate from one side to the other over long periods of time (tens to hundreds of
years. The sediment of the ebb tidal delta predominantly consists of sand.
The ebb tidal delta is connected to the inter tidal flats inside the estuary by means of tidal
channels. The size and shape of these channels is determined by the length of the estuary
and the tidal prism. Therefore the whole estuary should be considered even if only the tidal
channels are of interest. Some estuaries that have a reduced tidal prism (due to partial
closure or obstructions of the tidal flow) are not in equilibrium, as they have tidal channels that
are too deep compared to the current tidal prism. This wet volume of the channels is an
important aggragated parameter. On a more detailed level the migration of the channels and
local sedimentation or erosion can be studied, although this is difficult to do even with very
detailed models.
The channels link to the inter-tidal flats inside the tidal lagoon. These inter-tidal flats can
either consist of sandy or muddy sediment. The local ecology (flora and fauna) can have a
significant influence on the morphological changes of the tidal flats. This depends on the local
sediment (muddy or sandy) and hydrodynamic conditions. Local fauna (Benthos) can be of
importance on the morphological development of all sandy and muddy inter-tidal flats. While
feedback from the ecology to the hydrodynamics and vica versa is needed for salt marshes
(i.e. inter tidal flats with vegetation). These salt marshes occur mainly at relatively high muddy
flats (near or adjacent to the coast).
Large process-based field models are required to forecast the detailed processes in
estuaries, like the migration or building up and erosion of the flats, which makes them very
computationally intensive. An aspect that complicates the assessment with process-based
field models is that the gross changes are large compared to the net changes. Especially the
influence of flora and fauna makes the assessment of morphologic changes very difficult,
although formulations for some species have become available now.
A way to include more site specific information is to use empirical relations that were derived
from measurements of the development of (parts of) the estuary in the past. This makes the
model more robust. In this way the effect of processes that are too difficult to model is
reduced. The parameters used in an empirical model are more aggregated, due to which
local and temporal disturbances are filtered out of the results (which can make interpretation
easier). It is also possible to combine a process-based model with empirical models as is
illustrated in the model software overview in Chapter 3.
The requirements for modelling estuaries are summarised in Table 2.2. It is noted that the
Marsdiep is the only relevant tidal lagoon for the Holland Coast, as the Holland coast is not
expected to influence the Haringvliet and Eijerlandse gat significantly.

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Categories

Technical specifications
Detailed approach (process-based)

Migration rates of shoals

Sedimentation/erosion

Habitat suitability (Benthos &


Fish)

Ebb tidal delta

Tidal Channels

Migration rates of channels


Sedimentation/erosion

Aggregated approach (empirical)

Sand volume of ebb tidal delta

Bypass of sediment

Sediment exchange with open


coast

Wet volume of the tidal


channels

Import of sediment into the


inner part of the estuary

Sedimentation/erosion (sand)
Habitat suitability (Benthos)
Influence of ecology on
morphology

Sedimentation/erosion (mud)
Muddy inter-tidal flats
Habitat suitability (Benthos)
(slikken)

Influence of ecology on
morphology
Salt marshes (schorren)
Sedimentation/erosion (mud)

Habitat suitability (Benthos


and vegetation)

Feedback from ecology on


morphology and vica versa
Table 2.2
Relevant technical specifications for parts of estuaries
Sandy inter-tidal flats
(shoals of ebb-tidal delta)

2.2.3

Area of the inter-tidal flats

Structures
Structures are influenced by the morphology of the coastal system and do sometimes also
influence (parts) of the coastal system. Four kinds of structures are discerned:

Dams and Barriers,


Harbour moles and groynes,
Revetments / Dikes,
Navigation channels.

groynes

navigation channels

dikes / revetments

Figure 2.6

harbour moles

Illustration of typical areas inside estuaries with distinct complexity of the physical
processes.

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Large dams like the Eastern Scheldt barrier and the Afsluitdijk influence the coastal system
significantly, as they influence the behaviour and the tidal prism (volume of exchanged water
in a tidal cycle) of estuaries. Furthermore, these structures themselves and their function (to
increase the safety) is influenced by the development of the coastal system. The structures
are designed for specific hydraulic design conditions which may change if the bathymetry of
the foreshore changes. The same holds for the revetments and dikes along the coast. A
relevant example for the Holland coast is the Hondsbossche Zeewering which extends
seaward of the coast and should be considered a complex area to assess.
Smaller structures like groynes and harbour moles along the coast only locally affect the
coastal system by blocking part of the sediment transport along the coast. The effectiveness
of these structures will be influenced if the coastal system changes. For example, a large
accretion of the coast will result in more sediment bypass at the harbour moles and
subsequent sedimentation of the harbour and navigation channel. For revetments and dikes
the actual strength can be assessed with design rules (theoretical formulations). These
design rules use the hydraulic design conditions at the structure, which are influenced by the
coastal system.
The assessment of relevant parameters (coastline accretion, bathymetrical changes) for the
structures requires the use of models that are fit for the local type of area. The requirements
for these models were provided in Table 2.1 and Table 2.2. Summarising, the following
aspects are relevant for structures along the coast (Table 2.3):
Categories

Technical specifications

Hydraulic design conditions (e.g. impact of Bathymetrical changes)


Barriers and dams

Impact on tidal prism and equilibrium parameters of estuaries

Sediment bypass

Hydraulic design conditions (e.g. impact of Bathymetrical changes)


Harbour
moles
and

Sediment bypass
groynes

Coastline changes near breakwaters

Hydraulic design conditions (e.g. impact of Bathymetrical changes)


Dikes / Revetments

Strength of structures

Scour / Interaction hard-soft

Sediment infill rates


Navigation channel

Hydraulic conditions
Table 2.3
Relevant technical specifications for structures

2.3

Model related specifications


The previous section identifies specifications with respect to the capability of models to
handle physical situations (see Table 2.1, Table 2.2 and Table 2.3). Besides technical
requirements, model related aspects (like computational effort and robustness) are of
importance for the selection of suitable models for long-term eco-morphological
computations. Therefore a number of relevant model related specifications are derived (see
Table 2.4).
Categories
Model handling

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Model related specifications

Computational time?

Model area?

Complexity of the modelling effort?

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Availability of trained staff?


Accuracy suitable for long-term simulations?
Can it deal with measures that will substantially alter the current
coastline? (no verification material)

Model has been validated?


Model aggregation

Coupling with other models?

Batch functionality?

Probabilistic computations?
Improvements

Ongoing work? (Within other frameworks than BwN)

Model concept allows for improvements?


Table 2.4
Model related specifications of the morphodynamic/ecological numerical model
Robustness

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3 Overview of tools and models


3.1

Model description and evaluation


In this memo a limited number of morphological models are evaluated, which are expected to
be representative for the typical modelling approaches that can be used to assess potential
nourishment and sand-mining strategies on different time and spatial scales. These models
are:

ASMITA
Delft3D
DUROS
DUROSTA
ESTMORF
Habitat
PONTOS
UNIBEST-CL+
UNIBEST-TC
XBeach
Design formulae and expert judgement

In general a distinction can be made between empirical and process-based models. The
models that have an empirical basis use data to predict the changes over time. The
developments can then be used to assess the impact of future changes like sea level rise. An
empirical (or semi-empricial) model has the advantage of being stable for long-term
computations, as it is still related to data that was measured in the past. The disadvantage of
such a model is that the model is often not very detailed.
Process-based models are made on the basis of relations between physical properties.
These models provide detailed results, but may be unstable for long-term simulations. This is
due to the processes inside the model that can not handle all situations. Furthermore,
process-based models often require much more computational power, which makes it
impossible to perform detailed computations for very large areas (detail will decrease for
larger areas).
A more detailed description of the considered models can be found in Appendix A.

3.1.1

ASMITA model
The ASMITA model is a semi-empirical behaviour model (Stive et al. 1998, Stive and Wang
2003). In the model a network with an arbitrary number of elements can be defined. An
equilibrium situation should be defined for each of these elements as well as an exchange
between the elements. These equilibrium relations should be derived from available data or
from numerical models. On the basis of the relations in the model a forecast can be made of
the expected behaviour of the tidal lagoon in the future. So, the autonomous development or
development with impact from measures can be estimated.
The ASMITA model is often applied for estuaries and tidal lagoons. Modelling the effects of
sediment import into the Marsdiep estuary (a calibrated model is available) would be a typical
application. For such a situation, the model consists of three elements (intertidal flats, tidal

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channels and ebb tidal delta) which have a tendency towards an equilibrium volume. The
area and historical development of the volumes of the elements (e.g. flats, channels and
delta) should be used as input for the model. Besides tidal lagoons, the ASMITA model can
be applied to a variety of other situations. The ASMITA model was, for example, also applied
for sand pits, for which a coupling with Delft3D was used.
The advantage of the ASMITA model is that it is very fast and can also handle large areas
and longer timeframes (centuries). The results clearly show the overall tendencies, filtering
out the local and temporal fluctuations that might be present in detailed models . Furthermore,
the model code is easily accessible and can be modified. A disadvantage of the model is that
elements can only be modelled if the equilibrium situation can be specified.

3.1.2

Figure 3.1

Schematisation of an estuary in the Asmita model (images from Kragtwijk et al. 2004).

Figure 3.2

Estuaries in the Waddenzee (images from Kragtwijk et al. 2004).

Delft3D
The Delft3D model is a multi-dimensional (2D or 3D) hydrodynamic (and transport) simulation
program which calculates non-steady flow and transport phenomena resulting from tidal and
meteorological forcing on a curvilinear, boundary fitted grid (Lesser et al. 2001 and 2004).
The Delft3D model is capable of handling complex geometries (e.g. non-uniform coasts). The
currents (tides, river discharges) are computed directly with the model and the wave
conditions by means of the SWAN model. The model also contains modules for the transport
of cohesive and non-cohesive sediments and water quality which can be updated throughout
the hydrodynamic modelling.

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Delft3D is applied to a wide range of problems at different spatial scales (e.g. harbours, tidal
lagoons, rivers) for small to intermediate timeframes (up to years). The model is very suitable
for complex locations like a Zandmotor. For these complex situations it is also possible to
include the effect of vegetation in the Delft3D model. There is, however, no feedback from the
hydrodynamics and morphology to the vegetation included in the Delft3D model.
A disadvantage of Delft3D is that it is less suitable for long-term computations (100 years) or
for large domains (like the coast of Holland), as this will result in a large demand of
computational power and/or slow computations. To cope with this drawback the model was
applied creatively with simplified model formulations in previous studies. The model was, for
example, applied with fixed cross-shore profiles along the coast of Holland in the Flyland
study (WL | Delft Hydraulics, 2002), which studies the effects of an airport on an island some
kilometres of the Holland coast. Thus allowing only longshore transport. Another study, in
which Delft3D was applied, investigated the effects of large scale mining on the North Sea.
With a Delft3D model that uses only the initial morphological changes, it was studied whether
a large gully along the coast (Zandgoot) might influence the hydrodynamics and morphology
of the coast of Holland (Deltares, 2009).

Figure 3.3

3.1.3

Delft3D application for large scale flow computations (Westerschelde and Holland coast)
and for smaller scale phenomena like rip currents

DUROS
DUROS is an empirical model that computes dune erosion after a storm for a cross-shore
profile. The model is based on the principles of the mass balance, which means that the
amount of dune erosion (see Figure 3.5) should be equal to the amount of deposited sand (on
the seaward side). For this purpose, the model contains an empirical formulation for the
erosion profile (after 5 hours storm), which is computed on the basis of wave parameters
(wave height, wave period and water level) and properties of the dune and beach (1D profile
shape and sediment diameter). The erosion volume and retreat distance of the dune can be
derived from the output.
The DUROS model is used in the assessment of the safety of the uniform beaches of the
Dutch coast. The major advantage of the model is that it is extremely fast. The drawback of
the model is that it is not suitable for more complicated areas. This holds for example for
areas with very gentle sloping beaches and for coastlines with structures. The model concept
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will, for example, not be valid if the computed dune erosion profile is more gentle than the
initial beach slope. There are, however, some specific situations for which research was
performed to assess correction factors. This holds for example for curved coastlines. Three
versions of the DUROS model are available. The original model that was developed in the
1980s is called DUROS. This model was extended in 2006 (WL | Delft Hydraulics, 2006a and
2006b) by adding the influence of the wave period component and is referred to as DUROS+.
Recently, research was performed on a version of DUROS (referred to as D++) that can be
applied with nearshore wave boundary conditions.

Figure 3.4

3.1.4

Principe van DUROS berekening.

DUROSTA
The DUROSTA model is a process-based model that computes dune erosion for a 1D crossshore profile on a time scale of a storm (WL | Delft Hydraulics, 1990a and 1990b). For every
grid cell the sediment concentrations and transports are computed on the basis of the
hydrodynamic conditions. It was developed with the intention to be used for the assessment
of dune safety. In the current practice it is only used for complicated sections of dune coasts.
The model is quite fast as the domain (cross-shore profile) and timeframe (storm duration) of
the computation are small. It is, however, not suitable for cross-shore profile computations
during normal conditions, as streaming and wave asymmetry are not included in the model.
So, no shoreward sediment flux is computed.

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Figure 3.5

3.1.5

DUROSTA application for a dune

ESTMORF
ESTMORF is a semi-empirical model that computes morphological changes in estuaries and
tidal lagoons (Wang, 2005). It combines a one-dimensional tidal flow model with empirical
relations, which provide a relation between the morphological equilibrium state and the (tideintegrated) hydrodynamic parameters. This means that equilibrium relations are used to
compute average sediment concentrations in each element of the model, which is then
transported by means of the exchange flow between elements that is computed with a
numerical flow model. The basic assumptions of the model are:

A morphological equilibrium state can be defined for each element


The sediment is transported mainly as suspended load.
The rate of morphological change is dependent on the difference between the actual
and the equilibrium state.

The model is very suitable for complex estuaries, as it is faster than field models, like Delft3D,
and includes more details than the ASMITA model. It has also proved to work well for the
Western Scheldt and for the Friesche Zeegat. For example, in the context of the impact
studies of deepening the navigational channel of the Western Scheldt (WL | Delft Hydraulics,
2003).

Figure 3.6

3.1.6

ESTMORF model of the Western Scheldt

Habitat
The Habitat model is a spatial-analysis tool for ecological assessments (Duel et al., 1995).
The model is a shell around the PC-raster GIS software (property of the University of
Utrecht). Habitat can be used to model the availability and quality of habitats for certain
species (vegetation and animals). For this purposes relations can be included that relate the
physical and environmental properties to the suitability of a habitat for certain species. The
model is very flexible and can be used for all kind of assessments and ecological parameters.
The performance of the model does, however, depend on the availability of relations between
environmental parameters and response of the species or vegetation.

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A database with information on the influence factors for the suitability of habitats for a large
number of species is available. It contains mainly characteristics of species which are
relevant for the ecology in the Netherlands. There is no particular reason to use any other
ecological model tool, as the database with characteristics of the species is the most
important aspect.

Figure 3.7

3.1.7

Habitat model structure (left pane) and model result for the Markermeer (right pane)
(images from Haasnoot et al. 2005)

PONTOS
The PONTOS model is a multi-layer coastline model that computes coastline changes as a
result of longshore sediment transport separately for 5 depth layers (Steetzel et al., 1998).
This allows for different rates of coastline changes at different depth levels. Cross-shore
sediment transport is computed on the basis of the profile steepness of each layer, which is
related to an equilibrium profile steepness. Nourishments can be included in the cross-shore
layers of the models. A model study with a Zandmotor was made by distributing the
sediment over some cross-shore layers (see Figure 3.9). For this purpose a PONTOS model
for the uniform coast was coupled with ASMITA models for the tidal lagoons of the
Waddenzee (Steetzel et al., 2000). The model has been applied for the Holland coast and
was validated for the period 1970-1990 and 1990-2003.
The model has the advantage that it is faster than a field model like Delft3D, but it is much
slower than a coastline model like UNIBEST-CL+. A drawback of the model is that the
derivation of the equilibrium slopes (for each layer) requires validation data and extensive
calibration.

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Figure 3.8

Layer schematisation in the PONTOS model

Figure 3.9

Schematisation of the Holland coast in the PONTOS model

3.2.7 UNIBEST-CL+
UNIBEST-CL+ is a 1D coastline model that computes coastline changes as a result of wave
driven longshore sediment transport (single layer in the cross-shore direction) at specific
locations along the coast (WL | Delft Hydraulics, 1994). The sediment transport is then
translated to shoreline migration, which results in changes of the sediment transport in time.
The model is generally used in impact studies for coastal structures, like harbour moles. The
impact of a nourishment could be included as a source term in the model. The cross-shore
aspects of the nourishment, however, are not taken into account. UNIBEST-CL+ can be
applied for uniform coasts with revetments, groynes and breakwaters.
The major advantage of the model is that it is very fast. Consequently, it is possible to
evaluate a large amount of scenarios in a short time. The small computational effort of the
model also allows for a schematisation of the wave conditions that is more detailed than for
models like Delft3D (which require a small set of condition to reduce the computational effort).
The model has been applied in a wide range of scientific and consultancy projects.

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Figure 3.10

3.1.8

UNIBEST-CL+ coastline model (left pane) and cross-shore distribution of longshore


sediment transport (right pane)

UNIBEST-TC
UNIBEST-TC is a 1D cross-shore profile model which can simulate cross-shore aspects like
bank behaviour and foreshore nourishments (WL | Delft Hydraulics, 1999). The model
characteristics are described in Table A.7 (see Appendix) and are summarised here:
UNIBEST-TC can simulate cross-shore profile changes and dune erosion on a time scale of
storms up to years. The model is fast, which is a consequence of the small computational
domain (cross-shore profile). The model is suitable for cross-shore profile computations
during normal conditions, as streaming and wave asymmetry are included in the model (Van
Rijn et al, 2003). The model is mainly applied in research projects.

Figure 3.11

3.1.9

Cross-shore profile hindcast with the UNIBEST-TC coastline model

XBeach
The XBeach model is a process-based model that can simulate cross-shore profile changes,
dune erosion and long shore sediment transport (in 2DH) on a time scale of storms up to
months (Van Thiel de Vries et al., 2008). It is typically applied for the computation of dune
erosion and overwash of dunes. The model includes a wave model that is coupled to a flow

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model. These models compute the propagation of short and long (infragravity) waves, as well
as the transfer of energy between the short and the long waves, which is essential for dune
erosion. The model was developed by Deltares for the US Army Corps of Engineers after the
hurricane Ivan.
Xbeach models are computationally intensive (especially in large 2DH simulations). However,
the computational times are often still very acceptable, due to the small domains that are
applied (1D cross-shore profiles). The model has been validated with a series of physical
model tests of dune erosion and overwash situations.

Figure 3.12

3.1.10

Dune erosion hindcast with the XBeach coastline model (left: flume; right: 2DH beach)

Design formulae and expert judgement


Not all aspects that were defined in Sections 2.2 and 2.3 are covered by numerical models.
Therefore some aspects will need to be based on theoretical formulations or expert
judgement. Relevant theoretical or empirical formulations are available for:

Strength of structures (like dikes, revetments)


Aeolian transport of sediment (although only limited data is available)

Note that expert judgement is required for other aspects like scenery properties (e.g. scenery
properties of a Zandmotor).

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4 Comparison of models
4.1

Introduction
This chapter focuses on the suitability of the available models (Chapter 3) for the areas that
were discerned in Chapter 2. Section 4.3 describes the comparison of the models to the
requirements and the match of the models.

4.2

Model evaluation
On the basis of the findings in the previous chapter, this chapter deals with the potential
approaches that can be chosen to perform long-term eco-morphological modelling of the
coast of Holland. For this purpose, the models where divided in the following categories:

Coastline and field models


Dune erosion and cross-shore profile models
Empirical models
Ecological model

Coastline and field models


For a uniform coastline the Delft3D model can be used. This is the most detailed approach to
solve the coastline changes, but the drawback of the Delft3D model is the substantial
computational effort required. Furthermore, the cross-shore profile changes are not resolved
well in Delft3D as gradual erosion of the coastline takes place in the model due to the
absence of a good representation of the swash zone. It would therefore be beneficial for longterm computations to use a model which does not resolve all the details of the cross-shore
profiles throughout the computations. This is the case for coastline models like UNIBEST-CL+
and PONTOS. Another option would be to use ASMITA in combination with Delft3D for all
areas (specifying equilibrium relations), but specification of the equilibrium relations is
expected to require a lot of effort which makes this a somewhat less suitable option. Complex
coastlines (e.g. Zandmotor) should be assessed with a 2DH or 3D morphological model (like
Delft3D). Aspects that are relevant here (aeolian transport and interaction with ecology) are,
however, not included yet in the models. The Delft3D model can also be used to assess the
infill and shifting of sand mining pits and navigation channels as well as the detailed
development of estuaries on short timeframes (max. years). For some aspects (like local
development of the shoals) such a detailed approach can be very useful, although the
computational effort will be high. Furthermore, the impact on the tidal lagoon will be more
difficult to assess due to the autonomous development of the tidal lagoon and inherent model
uncertainties.
Dune erosion and cross-shore profile models
All dune erosion models have their strengths and weaknesses. For example, the Xbeach
model is the most complex model, but is more computational intensive than the other models.
Xbeach includes long waves which are the major cause for dune erosion. but it lacks the
ability to simulate the behaviour of sand bars that UNIBEST-TC has. Durosta and UNIBESTTC are well established models which are faster than Xbeach (especially the Durosta model).
The Durosta model, however, is only suitable for storm events as it can not simulate crossshore changes during mild conditions. This should not be an issue as long as only the dune
erosion is considered. Using the DUROS model, which is a semi-empirical model, would be
another option for computing dune erosion. The DUROS model is very fast and is regularly

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applied for the safety assessments of the dunes along the coast of Holland. Some processes
are not modelled in any of the models, which holds for the process of dune growth. This is
due to the fact that it depends strongly on aeolian sediment transport. So, it is not obvious
which model should be used for dune erosion. Currently, the Xbeach model is the preferred
choice for dune erosion modelling as it can cope with long waves and is developed
intensively by a wide group of people.
Empirical models
The long-term development of estuaries like the Marsdiep can be modelled with
(semi)empirical models like ASMITA and ESTMORF, as a detailed model like Delft3D is only
suitable for short timeframes. The strong point of the ASMITA and ESTMORF models is that
they are very fast models. Furthermore, the impact of measures can be assessed directly
from the results (easy to interpret). The results are, however, not very detailed (aggregated
parameters for large areas).
Ecological model
HABITAT is the only ecological model that is considered in this report. In fact it postprocesses available environmental data to suitability for ecological species. It can be used for
any of the areas, but is most useful for complex features (like a Zandmotor) and inter-tidal
flats inside estuaries as the nature value is one the most important properties of such areas.
Interaction between ecology and morphodynamics is, however, not yet available. For uniform
beaches it is expected that the development of the ecology is more or less independent from
the development of the coastline, and can therefore be assessed after the morphological
computation.

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Uniform beach

Coastline position / MKL *1


Dune erosion *2
Coastline position / MKL
Profile development *3

Sand bars

Dune erosion *2
Impact ecology on morphodynamics *4
Swimming safety

Headlands

Coastline position / shape


Dune erosion *2
Coastline position / shape *6
Sandy and fine sediments (mud)

Complex

Interaction ecology and morphodynamics *5

coastal features

Wind transport (Aeolian transport)


Swimming safety
Scenery properties

Sand mining pit

Morphological development (shift / filling) *7


Disturbance to environment
Migration rates & Sedimentation/erosion
Fine sediments/mud (inter-tidal flats)

Estuary

Habitat suitability

- ebb delta

Impact ecology on morphodynamics (flats) *4

- tidal channels

Interaction ecology and morphodynamics (flats)*5

- inter-tidal flats

Import of sediment *8
Sediment bypass (ebb delta) *8
Volume/Area of ebb delta, flats and channels *8

Structures

Impact on tidal prism and estuaries (dams) *9

- Barriers/dams

Sediment bypass (barriers)*10

- Harbour moles

Coastline changes (harbour moles) *11

- Groynes

Sediment bypass (groynes) *12

- Dikes

Scour / Interaction hard-soft (dike/revtm.) *13

- Revetments

Sediment infill rates (navigation channel) *14

- Navigation ch.

Hydraulic design conditions & strength *15

Table 4.1

Overview of physical features of the considered models

*1 Coastline position can be computed with field and coastline models


*2 Xbeach includes long waves. The DUROS model (here in column formulae) is an empirical dune erosion model.
*3 Unibest TC includes landward transport of sediment.
*4 The impact of ecology on the hydrodynamics can be included by means of roughness for waves and currents. The available
number of species is, however, limited.
*5 Interaction not available as functionality in models, but some simple applications may be possible if model results are passed
from one model to the other which is a complicated procedure.
*6 Pontos can to some extent include the cross-shore profile characteristics
*7 ASMITA in combination with Delft3D

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Theoretical

formulae /

Xbeach

Durosta

Duros

Unibest TC

Uniebst CL+

Pontos

Delft3D

Technical specifications

Habitat

Categories

Estmorf

Model comparison
An overview can be made of the functional capabilities and applicability of each of the models
(see Table 4.1), for which the information in Appendix A was used.

ASMITA

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*8 Emprical models like ASMITA and ESTMORF can better predict areas and volumes of flats, channels and ebb-tidal deltas
than a process-based model can. While sediment bypass is a complex and detailed process that is better studied with a field
model.
*9 ASMITA and ESTMORF can be used to study long-term impact of partial closures of a tidal lagoon.
*10 Delft3D can be used to estimate the effects on tidal prism and sediment bypass.
*11 Coastline models can be used for harbour moles and groynes, although partially blocking structures are difficult.
*12 Sediment bypass can be assessed only with detailed models. Or alternatively in a coarse way with PONTOS.
*13 The interaction between structures and sandy coasts is difficult. This holds especially for the local scour holes.
*14 Sediment infill rates can only be studied in detail with a field model (Delft3D). Coasltine models can be useful for unprotected
trenches in the active zone (where longshore transport is interrupted).
*15 A detailed model like Delft3D is required to determine design conditions. Formulae for safety assessment.

From Table 4.1 it can be seen that none of the considered models covers all of the
specifications, but the Delft3D model is capable of handling most issues. It is clear that a
process-based 2D/3D model, like Delft3D, is required to assess the more complicated
features along the coast of Holland. Such a complex model should (ideally) be assisted by a
dune erosion model (Xbeach, DUROSTA, UNIBEST-TC or DUROS), a model that can
analyse complex cross-shore profile changes like foreshore nourishments (UNIBEST-TC) and
a tool to analyse the ecological aspects (HABITAT).

Unibest TC

Duros

Durosta

Xbeach

Computational time
Model handling

Model area

XL XL S-L S-L

Complexity of the modelling effort


Availability of trained staff
Suitable for long-term computations

Robustness

Can deals with far from equilibrium situation


Model has been validated
Coupling with other models

Aggregation

Batch functionality
Probabilistic computations

Improvements

Table 4.2

Ongoing work
Model concept allows for improvements

Overview of model related aspects

Table 4.2 shows that the computational effort can differ significantly for the models, which is
directly related to the complexity of the processes in the model. To avoid excessive
computational effort, it is worthwhile to consider the use of models with a less detailed or
more aggregated approach for less complex situations. In this respect, the PONTOS or
UNIBEST-CL+ models can be used for uniform coastlines instead of Delft3D. Areas with sand
bars should, depending on their complexity be assessed with a combination of a longshore
and a cross-shore model (UNIBEST-CL+ and UNIBEST-TC) or with a complex field model

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Theoretical

Uniebst CL+

formulae /

Pontos

Delft3D

Habitat

Technical specifications

Estmorf

Categories

ASMITA

However, besides the capabilities of a model to handle complex situations, other practical
aspects are of importance, like computational efficiency, availability of trained staff and
validation of the model. A score for each of the models is presented in Table 3.2.

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(Delft3D). In practice, however, coupling of models is very difficult and needs to be improved
to perform this on long-term computations. The coupling functions should therefore be
improved. Another option would be to use a modified Delft3D model with less detailed
formulations for uniform coastlines. This approach was applied for the Flyland project. The
ASMITA model can be used to reduce the computational load for the impact assessment of
changes in sediment supply for the Marsdiep inlet. A calibrated ASMITA model is already
available for this tidal lagoon.
Other aspects that need to be taken into account are:

The complexity of modelling with Delft3D and PONTOS is somewhat higher than for the
other models.

Only a few trained modellers are available for the ESTMORF, PONTOS and UNIBESTTC model, which are also less frequently applied than other models.

Less complex models (like the UNIBEST-CL+) will perform better than detailed models
(like Delft3D) for long-term computations, because the degree of freedom for the model
is smaller (e.g. cross-shore profile is fixed). It should then be checked whether the
assumptions in the simple model are realistic (do the cross-shore profiles change
significantly over time). Furthermore, models with aggregated parameters (like area of
intertidal flats in ASMITA) are more stable due to the (relatively) smaller changes over
the modelling timeframe.

Aggregated models, however, sometimes have the disadvantage of being more


dependent on calibration data. It should be possible to derive the equilibrium situation
from these models (like ASMITA, ESTMORF and PONTOS).

In order to create one combined long-term model it should be possible to make a


coupling between the individual models. Direct couplings that are included in the models
are, however, hardly available. Some models, like Delft3D and UNIBEST-CL+ have a
built-in coupling with SWAN, but no couplings to other morphological models. More
indirect couplings were made between models with batch functionality, like a coupling
between ASMITA, PONTOS and Delft3D, but it often took a substantial effort to do this.
A large amount of coupling routines should then be made.
Even when all of these models are combined, it is not yet possible to realise a long-term ecomorphological model. It was found that there still is a knowledge gap with respect to dune
growth (by aeolian transport), although wind driven sediment transport models are available
for other areas (like deserts). What complicates the modelling of the aeolian sediment
transport is that the transport is very different for dry and wet areas. Formulations for aeolian
sediment transport are, however, expected to become available within BwN through PhD
work of Sierd de Vries. These formulations should then still be implemented in the models
(e.g. in Delft3D). Another aspect is related to the response of the ecology to environmental
parameters. For sand bars it can be relevant to take into account the impact of Benthos and
vegetation on the hydrodynamics and morphology of sand bars. Formulations to assess the
impact of the ecology on the hydrodynamics are currently being developed (Borsje et al.,
2008). Furthermore, the ecological development on top of and on the leeward side of complex
coastal features, like a Zandmotor, requires direct interaction between ecology and
morphology. These interaction models are not available, but some developments are started.
Furthermore, scenery properties (relevant for recreation) and structural stability are not
included in the numerical models and should be assessed now by means of theoretical
formulations and expert judgement.

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5
5.1

Modelling Approach for Eco-morphological modelling


Application of models
For the morphodynamic simulations of mega-nourishments along the Dutch Coast a suitable
modelling approach was discussed with specialists on numerical morphological modelling. It
was decided to develop a system of coupled models enabling a flexible technique to cover
the effects of small-scale interventions on a larger spatial and time scale. The core of the
coupled system will be Delft3D. On the one hand, output from Delft3d will be provided to
UNIBEST as e.g. annual longshore transports, while on the other hand XBeach can provide
bed changes after a storm period. The impact on tidal lagoons (like the Marsdiep) can be
evaluated with ASMITA.
Figure 5.1 sketches the application ranges on the spatial and temporal scale of the
considered models applied for the mega-nourishment, combined with the corresponding scale
of the Zandmotor.

XBeach can typically be applied on storm scale and for areas in the order of 100 m.
Delft3D can typically be applied from a tidal period up to a decade and typically covers
areas from 100 m up to several 10 kms.
A coastline model e.g. UNIBEST can typically be applied for seasonal periods up to
centuries covering areas from 1km up to an entire coastal system of 100 km.

Figure 5.1

Application ranges of the considered models applied to the Zandmotor

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5.2

Spatial coupling
Sediment transports around complex geometries can be computed with the area model
Delft3D, while the transports at more longshore uniform geometries can be studied more
efficiently with a coastline model. Hence, at a certain distance from the intervention along the
coast the sediment transports become more uniform and change gradually, which allows for
the application of a simplified model (like a 1D shoreline model). At this location, the area
model can be substituted by the shoreline model, while the area model provides e.g. annual
longshore transports to the shoreline model.
The deformation of the mega-nourishment can also be influenced by an extreme event. A
storm period with an extreme water level may cause inundation of the mega-nourishment,
possibly leading to overwash and erosion. The crest level of the nourishment may hence be
lowered increasing the vulnerability for subsequent storms. The process of breaching may
also occur during extreme events. To take into account the effects of such extreme events on
the morphodynamic evolution of the mega-nourishments, an XBeach model can be setup for
the complex geometry of the mega-nourishment. Morphodynamic simulations can be
conducted including the long wave effects for storms with different return periods. In this way
changes in the bed due to extreme events will be included in the longer-term development of
the nourishment.
Sediments for the mega-nourishment will be
mined offshore, probably beyond the -20m
depth contour. At such borrow areas, the bed
will be significantly lowered due to the
extraction of sand. Such deep and wide pits
may alter the propagation of waves towards
the coast as well as the tidal currents; both in
direction and magnitude. The geometry of
the pits may be designed in such a way that
sediment transport towards the coast is
enhanced due to natural processes of tides
and waves. Hence, optimal use is made of
natural processes and such measures highly
accommodate natural eco-dynamics.
Regarding the application on the meganourishment, the different considered models
covering a specific area will be coupled in a
flexible manner such that information is
exchanged at specific times during the eco-morphological simulation. The sketch depicts a
possible combination of models (XBeach, Delft3D, UNIBEST, and Durosta) for the area
around the mega-nourishment.

5.3

Temporal coupling
Besides the spatial coupling between the considered models, a temporal coupling is required
to ensure a smooth development of the bed changes at the mega-nourishment as well as for
the adjacent coasts. Typically, the longshore sediment transports from the Delft3D model are
provided to the adjacent two UNIBEST models at an interval of one year. The XBeach model
can be called at specific intervals during the morphodynamic Delft3D simulations, depending
on the return period of the considered storms.

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UniBest
XBeach

Alongshore distance

Alongshore distance

Delft3D

Time (yrs)
Figure 5.2

Coupling of different models in time and space

To illustrate the coupling intervals during the morphodynamic simulation the different calls are
depicted in the figure above. The orange blocks indicate the moments where XBeach is
called during the Delft3D computation. UNIBEST is called at a one-year interval and
exchanges information with Delt3D. Similarly, the ASMITA model at the Marsdiep (which is
not included in the figure) can be coupled to the output of the UNIBEST model.
Ecological effects are included mainly in Delft3D, as it is expected that ecology has relevant
impact where gradients are large; e.g. vegetation may effect the rates of bed change and the
characteristics of the morphology. Interaction of ecology and morphology is expected on
spatial scales of O(100m) O(1 km) and on temporal scales of seasons to years. Therefore,
Delft3D will be the most suited model to include the biogeomorphological interaction.

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5.4

Relevant evaluation parameters to consider


The integrated approach for the mega-nourishment, that was discussed in the previous
sections, consists of three different models: XBeach, Delft3D and UNIBEST. The effects on
the Marsdiep can be included with the ASMITA model. Table 5.1 presents the parameters
that can be studied with the considered models.

Model
Xbeach

Delft3D

UNIBEST-CL+

Wind model

Applications

Dune erosion / safety

Morphological changes of remote areas

Swimmer safety

Siltation effects in shadow zones

Eco-morphological effects

Medium-term morphological changes

Sedimentation of port access channels

Sand bypassing

Interaction between nourishments

Alongshore migration of nourishments

Transport into Marsdiep tidal lagoon

Dune growth

Sediment losses from emerged areas (e.g. high


areas of mega-nourishments and dune areas)

Table 5.1

Overview of parameters that are to be studied with the selected models

Figure 5.3

Relevant evaluation parameters for a mega-nourishment

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6 Conclusions and recommendations


6.1

Findings of the model evaluation


In this document the suitability for long-term eco-morphological simulations is assessed for a
number of numerical models. Specifications for the review of these models were made, which
were based on the differing requirements for distinct spatial regions along the coast of
Holland (like uniform beaches). From this assessment, the following was concluded with
respect to the capabilities of the models and availability of knowledge that is required for longterm modelling:

The Holland Coast can be characterized by a limited number of areas with distinct
complexity. Ranging from uniform beaches, which are the least complex, to complex
coastal features such as spits/zandmotors and estuaries.
No model can handle all requirements. Instead, a number of models cover a wide
variety of situations. However, even a combination of models is often not sufficient
The current ecological model (HABITAT) computes HABITAT suitability, which is
insufficient for parts of the coast with a feedback mechanism between ecology and
hydrodynamics/morphology.
There is a lack of ecological process information for some species, which is of
importance as the ecological models strongly depend on the available database with
ecological process information.
A model that computes aeolian (wind) sediment transport for coastal applications is not
available. Such a model could be very valuable for complex coastal features or mega
nourishments (e.g. zandmotor).

Besides the capabilities of a model to handle complex situations, the following conclusions on
practical aspects are drawn:

Computational time can be excessive if the most complex models are applied for
detailed simulations.
It is should be considered to use less detailed models or more aggregated models (e.g
coastline model) for less complicated areas along the coast of Holland.
For some models (PONTOS, UNIBEST-TC) only a few trained modellers are available.
Robustness of the computations (due to physical aspects like cross-shore profile
changes) is an issue for long-term computations with detailed 2DH models like Delft3D.
It is also possible that numerical accuracy becomes relevant for detailed models (due to
small cells and time steps). Aggregated models are more robust.
Aggregated models are more dependent on calibration data than process-based
models. This holds especially for ASMITA and PONTOS, which use equilibrium
relations. Extra attention must hence be paid to the calibration data for these models.
Coupling between the models is required, but not yet available.

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6.2

Conclusion
From the evaluation of the models and discussions with specialists on numerical
morphological modelling, it has been decided to develop a system of coupled models
enabling an integrated, flexible technique to cover the effects of small-scale interventions on a
larger spatial and time scale.
The core of the coupled system will be Delft3D as a mega-nourishment is initially an
intervention with a complex geometry along the coast. A coastline model (UNIBEST-CL+) will
be coupled in areas with uniform beaches to cover larger spatial and temporal scales, while
on the other hand XBeach can provide bed changes after a storm period. The long-term
impact of measures on the intertidal flats in the Marsdiep estuary can be modelled with the
ASMITA model.

6.3

Activities 2011
To develop an integrated system of coupled models the activities listed below are required.
These tasks are scheduled in several work packages (HK4.1, HK3.6, NTW1.3) for 2011 in
combination with the work of PhDs and master students.
For the evaluation of strategies of both nourishments and sand mining, an integrated system
of coupled models is required to cover the range in space and time; small-scale, short-term
interventions and impacts up to long-term effects on a large-scale. The evaluation of
strategies will mainly focus on effects on periods of 1 year 1 decade as in such periods
distinct differences can still be observed between strategies. Another important fact is that the
effects of ecology can not be assessed on time scales larger than about 5 years. Substantial
knowledge and experience is lacking for longer periods.
A. Coupling of models
As aforementioned, for strategies consisting of mega-nourishments, an integrated system of
coupled models is required. Therefore, different models covering a specific area will be
coupled in a flexible manner such that information is exchanged at specific times during the
eco-morphological simulation. This task will focus on the coupling of XBeach, Delft3D,
UNIBEST and ASMITA.
B. Aeolian transport model
With respect to aeolian transport, it is recommended to perform research on available
literature, formulations and models for aeolian transport that may be applicable for a meganourishment in a coastal zone.
C. Interaction of ecology and morphodynamics
It is recommended to perform simulations with interaction between ecology (vegetation,
benthos) and morphodynamics in order to study the potential effects of ecology on the
morphological development and vice versa. This model feature should take into account the
feedback between ecology and hydrodynamics/morphology. Point of attention is that process
knowledge on the behaviour of ecological species should be improved and included in the
model.

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Appendix A : Model characteristics


This appendix presents the characteristics of the considered model.
ASMITA
Type of model
Input data

Output data
Model handling

Robustness

Model aggregation

Improvements

Applicable for:
Sand mining pit
Estuary

Barriers/Dams
Table A.1 :

Semi-empirical behaviour model. A network with an arbitrary number of elements can


be defined. These elements can be coupled by means of equilibrium relations.
Equilibrium situations for model elements (e.g. tidal flats). These are often based on
long-term historical development of the considered model element.
Exchange rates between elements, which can for example be based on the
hydrodynamic characteristics of the tidal lagoon.
Long-term development of the model elements (e.g. tidal flats) for different scenarios
The model is extremely fast as it is dealing with the estuary in a parameterised way.
The model simulates ten to hundreds of years.
The model area can be very large (estuary / tidal lagoon)
Sufficiently trained staff is available
The model can be used for long-term simulations, but the accuracy depends on the
quality of the data.
The model changes should be small compared to the scale of the total system of
elements (otherwise data are not valid anymore).
The model has been validated on various estuaries.
The model was coupled to Delft3D and PONTOS in previous situations.
Batch runs can be made.
Probabilistic computations not included directly in model, but it can be used for
probabilistic computations
Currently no improvements are scheduled nor required.
The model code (FORTRAN or MATLAB) can easily be adjusted to specific demands in
a project.
Technical specifications:
Applied in combination with Delft3D to model sediment infill rates with equilibrium
relations for local bed level
Long-term development of estuaries
Area of intertidal flats
Volume of ebb tidal delta and channels
Sediment exchange with the coast
Impact of partial closure of a tidal lagoon on the development of estuaries
Overview of model characteristics of the ASMITA model

Delft3D
Type of model

Output data

Input data

Process-based 2D/3D model. The model computes flow hydrodynamics including


turbulence, wave transformation towards the coast (SWAN), water quality (as a result of
advection and diffusion processes) as well as sediment transport rates and resulting
bed level changes.
Maps with initial bathymetrical data, sediment characteristics and water quality.
Hydrodynamic boundary conditions like offshore wave data (bouy data), tidal
constituents or time series of water levels.
Maps with hydrodynamics parameters (e.g. flow velocities, water levels, inundation
frequency), sediment transport rates, water quality parameters and bathymetrical

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Model handling

Robustness

Model aggregation

Improvements

Applicable for:
Uniform Beach
Sand Bars
Complex coasts

changes (e.g. cross-shore profile development)


Slow computations, depending on the actual size of the considered area, timeframe and
physical processes involved
Delft3D can be applied on short/medium time scales (days to years)
Depending on the application it is suitable for moderately small (e.g. suppletion,
zandmotor) to large areas (tidal inlet)
The model has been used for long-term simulations (like the Flyland study and MER
study for the Zandmotor). These simulations lasted for example 20 years.
Large changes should not be a problem for the model. However, calibration is required
to include cross-shore behaviour (bank / foreshore nourishments) in 2DH computations,
which is valid for the present situation and probably different for a significantly altered
system.
The model has been validated on various estuaries.
Couplings are included between the flow, wave, sediment transport and water quality
model. This coupling is updated throughout the computations.
A coupling with a 1d coastline model (e.g. UNIBEST) or dune erosion model (XBeach
or Durosta) is not available.
Batch functionality is already applied in projects.
Probabilistic computations are not feasible due to the long simulation time
Ongoing work : the implementation of a simple wave model inside Delft3D, which will
make computations faster.
Ongoing work : modifications will be implemented to improve the accuracy of the
computed longshore transport in a 3D model.
Technical specifications:
Longshore and cross-shore sediment transport (2D) for normal conditions.
Complex (2D) morphological changes
Detailed flow features like rip currents
Transport of fine sediments and mud
Influence of vegetation on hydrodynamics (no interaction yet)

Sand mining pit

Sediment infill rates


Shifting of the location of sand mining pits
Estuary
Short term development of estuaries
Migration rates of shoals and tidal channels
Sediment bypass of estuarine system
Sedimentation and erosion on tidal flats (with/without vegetation)
Barriers/Dams
Impact on tidal prism in tidal lagoons
Sediment bypass at barriers
Hydraulic design conditions
Navigation channel Sediment infill rates
Harbour moles and Coastline changes near to structures
groynes
Sediment bypass
Dikes and
Large scale scour
revtements
Hydraulic design conditions
Table A.2 :
Overview of model characteristics of the Delft3D model

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DUROS
Type of model

The DUROS model is an empirical model that computes the dune erosion after a storm
for a cross-shore profile. It assumes that an erosion profile (after 5 hours storm) can be
found, which should be more gentle than the initial beach slope. The erosion profile is
then balanced such that the sedimentation (on the seaward side) is in balance with the
erosion of the dune.
As input the model uses wave parameters (wave height, wave period and water level)
and properties of the dune and beach (1D profile shape and sediment diameter)
It is possible to apply corrections for curved coastlines
Dune erosion volumes
Dune retreat distances
The model computations are extremely fast (minutes), because it is only a simple
empirical model.
Only dune erosion can be computed.
Areas which have cross-shore profiles that are very gentle are hard to evaluate, as the
erosion profile that is computed with the model is steeper than the initial profile.
It can not be applied in areas with structures
No coupling with other models.
It is possible to perform batch computations.
Probabilistic computations not included directly in model, but it has been used for
probabilistic computations

Input data

Output data
Model handling
Robustness

Model aggregation

Improvements

Applicable for:
Technical specifications:
Uniform Beach
Dune erosion volumes and retreat distances for extreme conditions (dune erosion)
Table A.3 :
Overview of model characteristics of the DUROSTA model

DUROSTA
Type of model

Process-based 1D dune erosion model, including transformation of waves towards the


shore with the Battjes-Jansen model. Wave run-up is included in a parameterised way
in the model. Only the erosive processes are modelled. So, no realistic accretion will
take place in the mean time.
Data is required on the shape of the cross-shore profile, sediment characteristics, wave
boundary conditions and (tidal) flow conditions
Cross-shore profile evolution and wave transformation towards the shore
The model computations are fast (minutes), which is due to the small spatial (crossshore profile of uniform coast) and temporal (storm duration) scales.
The model allows only short term computations.
Substantial changes to the coast should not be a problem.
The model has been applied in large number of projects, but has never been approved
officially for the safety assessments of the Dutch dune coast.
No coupling with other models.
It is possible to perform batch computations.
Probabilistic computations not included directly in model, but it can be used for
probabilistic computations

Input data
Output data
Model handling
Robustness

Model aggregation

Improvements
Applicable for:
Uniform Beach

Technical specifications:
Cross-shore sediment transport for extreme conditions (dune erosion)

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Sand Bars
Dikes /
Revetments
Table A.4 :

Crude representation of cross-shore profile changes (no streaming or wave asymmetry)


Suitable to include interaction between structures and sandy coast (hard-soft)
Overview of model characteristics of the DUROSTA model

ESTMORF
Type of model

Semi-empirical network model. A network with an arbitrary number of elements (area)


can be defined. For each of the elements an equilibrium concentration is defined. The
exchange between elements is computed with a 1D flow model (SOBEK)
Area and bed level of network elements, as well as connections between elements
Equilibrium concentrations for model elements (on the basis of data or computations)
Hydraulic parameters required for 1D flow computations
Long-term development of the volume in the model elements for different scenarios
The model is quite fast (depends on 1D flow computations).
The model simulates ten to hundreds of years.
The model area can be very large (estuary / tidal lagoons)
Only a few people have applied the ESTMORF model
The model can be used for long-term simulations
The model changes should be small compared to the scale of the total system of
elements (otherwise data are not valid anymore).
The model has been applied for the Western Scheldt and Friese Zeegat
The model itself is a coupling between a 1D flow model and an equilibrium model
No improvements are scheduled.
The model code (FORTRAN or MATLAB) is available.

Input data

Output data
Model handling

Robustness

Model aggregation
Improvements

Applicable for:
Estuary
Barriers/Dams
Table A.5 :

Technical specifications:
Long-term development of estuaries (especially if they are tide dominated)
Area, bed level and sediment concentrations of elements
Impact of partial closure of a tidal lagoon on the development of estuaries
Overview of model characteristics of the ESTMORF model

HABITAT
Type of model

Model processes GIS data with environment variables into habitat suitability maps for
certain species
Maps with environment variables (inundation frequency, toxic levels, disturbance/noise)
Relations between environment variables and habitat suitability
Habitat suitability maps
The model is very fast, as it only processes available data.
It can be applied on all time and spatial scales.
Model results depend strongly on the input data
Coupling tools available to import Delft3D output data
It is possible to perform batch computations.
Probabilistic computations not included directly in model, but it can be used for
probabilistic computations

Input data
Output data
Model handling
Robustness
Model aggregation

Improvements
Applicable for:
Sand Bars

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Technical specifications:
Suitability for species as input for prediction of bed roughness due to ecology

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Estuary (flats)
Uniform beach
Habitat suitability (Ecological impact)
Complex coasts
Estuary (flats,
shoals, channels)
Sand mining pit
Table A.6 :
Overview of model characteristics of the HABITAT model

PONTOS
Type of model

Input data
Output data

Model handling

Robustness

Model aggregation

Improvements

Applicable for:
Uniform Beach
Sand Bars
Sand bars

1D multi layer coastline model. The model computes the wave-driven longshore
sediment transport separately for 5 depth layers. Cross-shore sediment transport
between these layers is computed on the basis of equilibrium coastline shape
(equilibrium steepness for each layer). Longshore sediment transport is computed by
means of a modified Van Rijn formulae. The model contains simple functions to cope
with shielding by structures (e.g. harbour moles) and contraction of tidal currents.
Coastline shape with depth contours, cross-shore profiles, equilibrium slopes for each
layer, sediment characteristics and hydraulic conditions.
Longshore transport
Cross-shore transport between layers (residual long-term transport)
Areas of inter-tidal flats (if ASMITA model inside PONTOS is used)
The computational time is moderate (hour to a day). It depends on the model area,
timeframe and wave climate schematisation (number of conditions). Furthermore, the
magnitude of the changes is of influence on the timestep of the model.
The derivation of the equilibrium slopes (for each layer) is quite an effort. Good
calibration data should be available for this calibration.
The actual coastline shape should be transformed to a straight line, which requires a reorientation of the wave climates.
Only a few people have experience with the model.
Long-term simulations can be made with the model (5 to 100 years).
The equilibrium slopes (for each layer) need to be calibrated, which is more difficult for
applications where the changes are large.
The model has been applied for the coast of Holland in the past. It was calibrated and
validated on the basis of historical changes in the periods 1970-1990 and 1990-2003.
A coupling has been made with ASMITA for the Holland coast model (ASMITA was built
into the PONTOS model). A direct link with long-term wave climate stations along the
coast is possible. Couplings with other models, like Delft3D or SWAN are nota available.
The model is operated through a visual basic user interface
Probabilistic simulations are not possible with the model, but functionality to do this is
one of the items that is envisaged to be included in the future.
Currently no improvements are envisaged.
Possible items that would improve the model are:
- a tool to ease the calibration of the model,
- ability to perform probabilistic computations with the model
- a coupling of PONTOS with a dune safety model
- application of PONTOS outside the NAP-20m contour (e.g. sand mining pit).
Technical specifications:
Longshore sediment transport (Coastline position / MKL) for normal conditions.
Crude representation of cross-shore profile changes with equilibrium relations by adding

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Complex coasts
Navigation channel

a volume of sand to an offshore block. PONTOS can be used to coarsely model the
morphological development of large suppletions.
Sediment infill rates in navigation trenches which cross the surf zone

Harbour moles /
Coastline changes near to structures
Groynes
Coarse representation of sediment bypass
Dikes /
Influence of revetments on coastline changes
Revetments
Table A.7 :
Overview of model characteristics of the PONTOS model

UNIBEST-CL+
Type of model

Input data
Output data
Model handling

Robustness

Model aggregation

Improvements

1D coastline model. The model computes the wave-driven longshore sediment transport
distribution over cross-shore profile rays. The relation between net sediment transport and
coast angle is schematised and used for the coastline model.
Coastline shape and angles, cross-shore profile shape, sediment characteristics and
hydraulic conditions.
Coastline position, longshore transport distribution over cross-shore rays, erosion volumes.
The computational time is fast (seconds to half an hour). It depends on the model area,
timeframe and wave climate schematisation (number of conditions).
Trained staff to handle the model is available.
Long-term simulations can be made with the model. Wave climate conditions can be
adjusted throughout the computation such that climate change is included.
The model is applied regularly in a wide variety of projects.
Wave climate data can be imported through a coupling with Delft3D-Waves (SWAN)
Batch functionality is available.
Probabilistic simulations are not possible with the model, but functionality to do this is one
of the items that is envisaged to be included in the future.
Functionality is currently implemented to handle time-series.
Additional sediment transport formulae are added
Functionality to apply local sheltering or diffraction behind breakwaters and groynes.
It is intended to develop probabilistic functionality in the future

Applicable for:
Technical specifications:
Uniform Beach
Longshore sediment transport (Coastline position / MKL) for normal conditions.
Sand Bars
Navigation channel Sediment infill rates in navigation trenches which cross the surf zone
Harbour moles /
Coastline changes near to structures
Groynes
Coarse representation of sediment bypass
Dikes /
Influence of revetments on coastline changes
Revetments
Table A.8 :
Overview of model characteristics of the UNIBEST-CL+ model

UNIBEST-TC
Type of model
Input data
Output data

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1D cross-shore profile model. The model computes sediment transport over cross-shore
profile rays due to undertow, wave asymmetry and near bed streaming.
Cross-shore profile shape, sediment characteristics and hydraulic conditions.
Cross-shore sediment transport, bed level changes (sand bar behaviour) and wave
transformation towards the shore.

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Model handling

The computational time is quite fast (minutes to hours), but depends on the simulated
timeframe and the number of hydraulic conditions.
UNIBEST-TC has been deployed mainly in research projects. There are some
experienced modellers within Deltares.
Long-term simulations can be made with the model. Although the equilibrium distances
between depth-layers are probably not valid for significantly altered situations.
The model is not regularly applied, but has been applied for the coast of Holland.
Coupling with Delft3D is not available.
Batch runs can be made.
Probabilistic simulations are not yet feasible due to long simulation time

Robustness

Model aggregation

Improvements
Applicable for:
Uniform Beach
Sand Bars
Dikes /
Revetments
Table A.9 :

Technical specifications:
Cross-shore sediment transport for extreme conditions (dune erosion)
Cross-shore sediment transport for normal conditions (profile development)
Detailed cross-shore profile changes of sand bars and foreshore nourishments (streaming,
wave asymmetry, undertow)
Suitable to include interaction between structures and sandy coast (hard-soft)
Overview of model characteristics of the UNIBEST-TC model

Xbeach
Type of model

Input data
Output data
Model handling

Robustness

Model aggregation

Improvements

Applicable for:
Uniform Beach
Sand Bars
Headlands

Process-based 1D or 2DH dune erosion model that is capable of simulating dune


erosion and overwash. The model computes both short and long wave transformation
towards the shore (Wave action balance, Shallow water equations). Energy transfer
from the short to the long waves is included in the model. The model computes
sediment transport and dune erosion (with avalanching and wave run-up formulations).
Cross-shore profile shape, sediment characteristics, hydraulic conditions (wave
spectrum and tide) and dune erosion parameters.
Sediment transport, bed level changes (including dune erosion and overwash) as well
as long and short wave transformation towards the shore.
The computational time is moderate for 1D simulations (hour) and slow for 2DH
simulations with large domains (hours to days).
The model is easy to set up.
Experienced modellers are available within Deltares.
The model simulates storm related dune erosion or overwash on a time scale of hours
to days. In general the model is very stable.
Validation cases were performed to test the model.
Coupling with Delft3D is not available.
Batch runs can be made.
Probabilistic simulations are not yet feasible due to long simulation time
Model code is available under GNU license.
A large number of improvements is implemented in the code
Technical specifications:
Cross-shore sediment transport for extreme conditions (Dune erosion) including impact
of long waves and overwash.
Complex (2D) cross-shore and longshore morphological changes

Approach for eco-morphological modelling of mega-nourishments along the Holland coast

43 of 44

1200893-000-HYE-0005, 2 December 2010, draft

Complex coasts
Dikes /
Revetments
Table A.10 :

44 of 44

Suitable to include interaction between structures and sandy coast (hard-soft)


Overview of model characteristics of the XBeach model

Approach for eco-morphological modelling of mega-nourishments along the Holland coast

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