03 Aug 2022
03 Aug 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Synoptic observations of sediment transport and exchange mechanisms in the turbid Ems estuary: the EDoM campaign

Dirk S. van Maren1,2,3, Christian Maushake4, Jan-Willem Mol5, Daan van Keulen2,6, Jens Jürges4, Julia Vroom2, Henk Schuttelaars2, Theo Gerkema7, Kirstin Schulz8, Thomas H. Badewien9, Michaela Gerriets9, Andreas Engels10, Andreas Wurpts11, Dennis Oberrecht11, Andrew J. Manning2,12,13, Taylor Bailey14, Lauren Ross14, Volker Mohrholz15, Dante M. L. Horemans16, Marius Becker17, Dirk Post10, Charlotte Schmidt5, and Petra J. T. Dankers18 Dirk S. van Maren et al.
  • 1State Key Lab of Estuarine and Coastal Research, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
  • 2Delft University of Technology, Delft 2600GA, the Netherlands
  • 3Deltares, Marine and Coastal Systems Unit, 2629 HV Delft, the Netherlands
  • 4BAW, Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute, 22559 Hamburg, Germany
  • 5Rijkswaterstaat, 8224 AD Lelystad, the Netherlands
  • 6Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University and Research, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
  • 7Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, The University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712-1229, United States
  • 8NIOZ Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems, 4400 AC Yerseke, the Netherlands
  • 9University of Oldenburg, Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment, Marine Sensor Systems, 26382 Wilhelmshaven, Germany
  • 10Niedersächsischer Landesbetrieb für Wasserwirtschaft, Küsten- und Naturschutz, D-26603 Aurich, Germany
  • 11NLWKN-Forschungsstelle Küste, Jahnstraße 1, D-26506 Norden, Germany
  • 12School of Biological and Marine Sciences, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon PL4 8AA, United Kingdom
  • 13HR Wallingford, Howbery Park, Wallingford OX10 8BA, United Kingdom
  • 14Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469, USA
  • 15Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, D-18119 Rostock, Germany
  • 16William & Mary Virginia Institute of Marine Science: Gloucester Point, VA 23062, USA
  • 17Kiel University, Otto-Hahn-Platz 1, 24118 Kiel, Germany
  • 18Royal Haskoning DHV, 6534 AB Nijmegen, the Netherlands

Abstract. An extensive field campaign (EDoM) was executed in the Ems estuary, bordering the Netherlands and Germany, aiming at better understanding the mechanisms driving exchange of water and sediments between a relatively exposed outer estuary and a hyperturbid tidal river. Particularly the reasons for the large up-estuary sediment accumulation rates and the role of the tidal river on the turbidity in the outer estuary were insufficiently understood. The campaign was designed to unravel the hydrodynamic and sedimentary exchange mechanisms, comprising two hydrographic surveys during contrasting environmental conditions using 8 concurrently operating ships and 10 moorings measuring for least one spring-neap tidal cycle. All survey locations were equipped with sensors measuring flow velocity, salinity, and turbidity (and with stationary ship surveys taking water samples), while some of the survey ships also measured turbulence and sediment settling properties. These observations have provided important new insights into horizontal transport fluxes and density-driven exchange flows, both laterally and longitudinally. An integral analysis of these observations suggest that large-scale residual transport is surprisingly similar during periods of high and low discharge, with higher river discharge resulting in both higher seaward-directed fluxes near the surface and landward-directed fluxes near the bed. Sediment exchange seems to be strongly influenced by a previously undocumented lateral circulation cell driving residual transport. Vertical density-driven flows in the outerestuary are influenced by variations in river discharge, with a near-bed landward flow being most pronounced in the days following a period with elevated river discharge. The study site is more turbid during winter conditions, when the Estuarine Turbidity Maximum is pushed seaward by river flow, resulting in more pronounced impact of suspended sediments on hydrodynamics. All data collected during the EDoM campaign, but also standard monitoring data (waves, water levels, discharge, turbidity and salinity) collected by Dutch and German authorities is made publicly available at 4TU Centre for Research Data (; van Maren et al., 2022).

Dirk S. van Maren et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2022-260', Anonymous Referee #1, 30 Sep 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', D.S. van Maren, 01 Dec 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on essd-2022-260', Anonymous Referee #2, 18 Oct 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', D.S. van Maren, 01 Dec 2022

Dirk S. van Maren et al.

Data sets

The Ems-Dollard Measurement (EDoM) campaign 2018–2019 Bas van Maren, Jan-Willem Mol, Christan Maushake, Theo Gerkema, Julia Vroom, Daan van Keulen, Andreas Engels

Dirk S. van Maren et al.


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Short summary
This paper reports on the main findings of a large measurement campaign aiming to better understand how an exposed estuary (the Ems estuary on the Dutch-German border) interacts with a tidal river (the lower Ems River). Eight simultaneously deployed ships measuring for a tidal cycle and 10 moorings collecting data throughout a spring-neap tidal cycle have produced a dataset providing valuable insight into processes determing exchange of water and sediment between both systems.