Geographia Polonica (2011) vol. 84, iss. Special Issue Part 2

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Concepts of dynamic equilibrium of interest for river management in the lower Maas catchment

Jef Vandenberghe, Jos De Moor, Gemma Venhuizen

Geographia Polonica (2011) vol. 84, iss. Special Issue Part 2, pp. 141-153


This paper discusses the interaction between climate change, land use, water managementand internal evolution within a river catchment, applied to the Maas River catchment. It isbased on the results of a project carried out as part of the Dutch research programme “ClimateChanges Spatial Planning”, theme “Climate Scenarios”. These results were obtained by a combinationof proxy reconstructions and by numerical modelling of past, present-day and near-futureclimate and river evolution. Since external factors like climate change and human impact influencethe river system in such a way that they will have severe consequences for society, economyand public health, understanding of the cause-and-effect relations within a river basin appears tobe of utmost importance. Therefore, a background framework for accurate water managementstrategies, based on the intrinsic factors and external driving factors (climate, human impact) influencingthe Maas River, has been developed. Together with the simulations, which give a goodoverview of the trends in precipitation and discharge between 4000–3000 BP and 1000–2000AD (as well as an outlook to the 21st century), the proxies help to gain insight into the long-termchanges in climate and hydrology in the Maas River basin. It appears that the principles of the dynamicequilibrium in a river system provide most useful guidelines for such a background. Fromthe reconstructed river evolution it is illustrated what kind of effects may be expected from eachnatural or anthropogenic distortion of that equilibrium for flood risks, changes in river courseand morphology, and fluvial transport capacity. It is concluded that river management, includingcompliance with the recent European directives for maintenance of natural heritage of river systems,should find a balance between providing the possibility to the river to maintain a dynamicequilibrium, based on its reconstructed historical river behaviour, and necessary measures asdirected by practical social and economic needs.

Keywords: dynamic equilibrium, river management, climate change, water management, human impact, flooding, Maas River, Geul River, The Netherlands

Jef Vandenberghe, VU University, Institute of Earth Sciences, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Jos De Moor, EARTH Integrated Archaeology, Basicweg 19, 3821 BR Amersfoort, The Netherlands
Gemma Venhuizen, Nova Zemblastraat 23M, 1013 RJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands