Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dutch unveil latest plan in war against the sea: a sandbar

Terra Daily via AFP: In its age-old war to keep back the sea, low-lying Netherlands has dumped sand onto a surface larger than 200 football fields just off the coast -- and will wait for nature to do the rest.

The wind, waves and ocean currents are the next "engineers" in this innovative project that will see the transferred sand -- all 20 million cubic metres (700 million cubic feet) of it -- driven landward to form a natural barrier against the North Sea's relentless onslaught.

"It's already working!" said an excited project coordinator Nico Bootsma as he stood seven metres (22 feet) above sea level at the hook-shaped peninsula's highest point. It's here, at the sandbar's northern edge, where waves are at their highest.

The elements have started moving the tip of the bar, which already almost touches land at low tide. Over a period of 15 to 20 years, the sand will wash towards the coast, reinforcing beaches and existing sand dunes that help protect the Netherlands, more than a quarter of which lies below sea level...

A view at the Wadden Sea near Peasens-Moddergat, a village in the Frisian municipality of Dongeradeel. In the background the island of Schiermonnikoog can be seen. Shot by Wutsje, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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