Netherlands is a country in Northwestern Europe. It is located between Germany and Belgium, and across from the United Kingdom. The word “nether” stands for “low” in the native language, so the name Netherlands means lowland. The reason why people give it this name is because the whole elevation of this country is so low that about 60 percent of its land is below the sea level(Jonkman, 2018). Therefore, Dutch invented windmills to deal with the flooding problem hundreds years ago. The main purpose of windmills is for drainage(The purpose, 2017). They pump the water out from the rainy or flooding by using the wind energy to redirect them into right route in order to protect the agricultural field and residents.

Climate Change Risks

1. Sea level rise

  • Flooding
  • Increasing precipitation

2. Increasing temperature

  • Longer warmer season

The effect of the climate change in the Netherlands

Youtube, Teresa Millan

Sea level rise

  • According to fifth IPCC report, using the RCP 8.5 model to predict the greenhouse gas emission in the twenty first century, at the end of the this century, the global sea level will rise about one meter which is about 3 foot. If the sea level goes up for 3 foot, Rotterdam will totally sleep under the sea.
  • The average elevation for Rotterdam is actually -4 meters (Elevation).


  • The Netherlands is estimated to have an increasing future flood loss for Amsterdam and Rotterdam in Netherlands (IPCC 2014).
  • Under an assessment model for the condition that one of the segments for protecting the urban area from flooding fail to block the water, there will be only 48 hours for water to invade about 40 percent of the whole city.(Jongejan, 2015)
  • The lower side in Rotterdam is the residential side, and the industrial side is higher than residential side in elevation.(Kimmelman, 2017)
  • South Holland province has a high population density, so it will increase the difficulty of evacuating the people in South Holland. (Jonkman, 2008)

Flooding in Goeree-Overflakkee, Netherlands, 1953

Agency of International Development

The Netherlands compared to sea level

Jan Arkesteijn, Dutch Wikipedia


  • Precipitation is increasing rapidly in the Netherland (Climate Change post).
  • In the past one hundred years, the mean annual precipitation increases for 25 percent (Climate Change post).
  • The extreme downpour in the summer is increasing, this means current solutions may not be enough to store or expel these rapidly increasing amount of water in the Rotterdam, because the low elevation for the whole city (Climate Change post).

Increasing temperature

Since 20th century the global temperature has risen about 0.8 degree Celsius, but in Netherlands the number was 1.7 degree Celsius(Nwanazia, 2018). 

There is not enough evidence to show that the temperature increases is hourly intensity, but the daily intensities increases steeply for temperature above 22 degree Celsius(Lenderink, 2008).

Longer warmer season for flowers to spread pollen

  • The pollen spreading season is longer than before, also the pollen concentration detected is higher than before. It means that the possibility of people inhale that pollen is slightly increasing, and also it will initiate more people’s asthma and respiration system disease. (Groenewoud, 2002)
  • The pollen concentration is highly related to mortality. Cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and Pneumonia are three main reasons of mortality during the pollen season. (Brunekreef, 2000)
  • Pollen can cause asthma and many kind of respiration system disease; if the patient cannot get appropriate treatment on time, they may die because of asphyxia and fatal symptoms. The symptoms caused by pollen will also let the patients feel tiredness, less ability to concentrate, headache, and some nose and eye symptoms. (Groenewoud, 2002)

Tulips in Netherlands

Pixabay, RobVanDerMeijdan

Vulnerable group

  • Urban people
  • People who live near the river Rhine and Meuse
  • Minority people

Urban people

  • 82.9 percent of Dutch are urban people. (Lee) In order to contain this much urban population, the whole Netherlands is highly developed.
  • Extension of the city makes vegetation destroyed. (Lee) lower vegetated area means that lower penetration ability. The roads, buildings, and cities also block the way of flooding water to infiltrating into the soil, so urban people are more likely to face flooding problem when a heavy rain is coming. The roads, buildings, and cities also block the way of flooding water to infiltrating into the soil, so urban people are more likely to face flooding problem when a heavy rain is coming.
  • Most of the residents in Netherlands rely on dykes to protect them. (Dorothee, 2013) If dykes have some problems such as the water flood over the dyke’s height, or it is destroyed, the people who live near the dyke will be in great danger. It takes time for them to go to some place that is safe for them. 

People who live near the river Rhine and Meuse

  • As the increasing in the precipitation in Netherland, the discharge amount of river Rhine and Meuse will increase. (Bouwer, 2017)
  • River Rhine’s discharge amount will increase from 16000 to 18000 cube meter and for the river Meuse this amount is estimated increasing from 3800 to 4600 cube meter. If the river is overload, due to the large flooding area along the river, the evacuation for local people will be very hard. (Bouwer, 2017)

Minority people

Immigrants or those people do not from Dutch will have language or cultural barriers during the evacuation. (Kok, 2015) If they cannot receive the caution on time, their evacuation from flooding may become a problem.

Rhine of the Netherlands

Marikit Louppen, Wikipedia

Meuse River Traffic

Dennis Jarvis, Flickr



  • Build or rebuild infrastructure enhance resilience
  • Risk assessment
  • Monitor water resources

Build or rebuild infrastructure enhance resilience

  • Maeslantkering is located in downtown Rotterdam which is at the frontier to defense water from sea (Kimmelman, 2017). When the sea level rises above 3 meters from the city, this huge barrier will be activated, and blocks the water outside from the urban area (William, 2017). 
  • In Rotterdam, government builds many parks, stadiums, gyms, and even underground parking lots, and all of the these can be use as the emergency reservoirs to store the water that cannot penetrate the ground and waiting for the city drainage system to expel all of them out (Kimmelman, 2017).

Maeslantkering, Nieuwe Waterweg, closed.


Risk assessment

  • The first step for risk assessment is screening. Scientists need to figure out which failure mechanism should be analyzed. Then they will calculate the failure possibility for each section under different scenario models. The final step is to estimate the risk and gets prepared for upcoming hazards. Within the flood simulation, scientists need to estimate the damage and mortality rate under different water depths, flow velocities and rise rate. Also, facing different condition, they will have different evacuation plans to help the vulnerable people at risk. Therefore, one of the most important parts is to calculate how many asset and population will be exposed in flooding in order to minimize economic loss and mortality(Jongejan, 2015).

The VNK2 procedure for quantifying flood risks

R.B. Jongejan,Quantifying Flood Risks in the Netherlands

Monitor water resources

  • River Rhine is one of main water resources for Netherlands. It not only provides plenty of freshwater, but also brings flood to Dutch. In order to monitor the river Rhine, Dutch scientists applied the climate change scenario on the Rhine and to keep an eye on the main change of three relevant boundary conditions of the Rhine delta which are the Rhine discharge at Lobith, precipitation and potential evaporation, and sea levels at two key locations along the Dutch coast. They find out alternative indicators that can help them to predict the upcoming flooding hazard in the following year, to help the government to make up appropriate policies to solve the problem (Haasnoot, 2015). A good adaptation plan may not be able to prevent the hazard, but it will decrease the bad influence.

Different steps in a policy analysis approach for supporting climate adaptation 

Haasnoot,Transient scenarios for robust climate change adaptation illustrated for water management in The Netherlands


The whole South Holland province is influence by the climate change. Increasing temperature increases the pollen season and makes old people and young kids more vulnerable facing asthma and respirational system disease. Also, sea level rise and increasing precipitation brings more flooding into this country. Almost whole South Holland province is under the dangerous of flooding, especially the Rotterdam which has a low elevation and higher population density. If the flooding is coming, it takes more time for Rotterdam to evacuate people out from the city, and also it takes longer time for water to penetrate the ground or expelled from the city.

About author

Yiwei graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2021 as a environment studies major. He came from Chinese and decided to make some change for Chinese environment when he was young. He wanted to help changing the water crisis and air pollution in China.He made this webpage for Dr. Jon Rosales "Adapting to Climate Change" class. 


Bouwer, Laurens & Vellinga, Pier. (2007). On the Flood Risk in the Netherlands.



Brunekreef, B., Hoek, G., Fischer, P., & Spieksma, F. T. (2000). Relation between

   airborne pollen concentrations and daily cardiovascular and respiratory-disease

   mortality. The Lancet,355(9214), 1517-1518. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(00)02168-1


Climate change in Netherlands. (n.d.). Retrieved March 1, 2019, from


Climate change 2014: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. (2015).


Elevation of Rotterdam,Netherlands Elevation Map, Topo, Contour. (n.d.). Retrieved

  March 1, 2019, from


Haasnoot, M., Schellekens, J., Beersma, J. J., Middelkoop, H., & Kwadijk, J. C. (2015). Transient

   scenarios for robust climate change adaptation illustrated for water management in The   

   Netherlands. Environmental Research Letters, 10(10), 105008. doi:10.1088/1748-



Hippler, D. et al(2013) . Vulnerability of the Netherlands to global change, a case study, from


Horst, W. L., & Jongejan, R. B. (2015). The importance of domino effects in flood risk

   assessments: A case study from the VNK2 project. International Journal of River Basin 

   Management,13(3), 305-313. doi:10.1080/15715124.2014.1003303



Groenewoud, G. C., Jong, N. W., Burdorf, A., Groot, H. D., & Wyk, R. G. (2002).

   Prevalence of occupational allergy to Chrysanthemum pollen in greenhouses in

   the Netherlands. Allergy,57(9), 835-840. doi:10.1034/j.1398-9995.2002.23725.x


Jongejan, R. B., & Maaskant, B. (2015). Quantifying Flood Risks in the

   Netherlands. Risk Analysis,35(2), 252-264. doi:10.1111/risa.12285


Jonkman, S. N., Kok, M. and Vrijling, J. K. (2008), Flood Risk Assessment in the

   Netherlands: A Case Study for Dike Ring South Holland. Risk Analysis, 28: 1357-1374.



K, de Bruin, R. B. Dellink and et al.(2009, April 10) Adapting to climate change in The Netherlands: an

   inventory of climate adaptation options and ranking of alternatives. DOI 10.1007/s10584-009-9576-4


Kimmelman, M., & Haner, J. (2017, June 15). The Dutch Have Solutions to Rising

   Seas. The World Is Watching. Retrieved March 1, 2019, from


Koks, E., Jongman, B., Husby, T., & Botzen, W. (2015). Combining hazard, exposure

   and social vulnerability to provide lessons for flood risk management. Environmental Science &

   Policy,47, 42-52. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2014.10.013


Lee, P., Wong, C., & Mun, R. (n.d.). Netherlands: Flooding and Impacts. Retrieved

  March 1, 2019, from


Lenderink, G., & Meijgaard, E. V. (2008). Increase in hourly precipitation extremes beyond expectations

   from temperature changes. Nature Geoscience Volume, 1, 511-514. Retrieved from


Nwanazia, C. (2018, August 21). The Effects of Climate Change in the Netherlands:

  What's Going to Happen? – DutchReview. Retrieved March 1, 2019, from


The purpose of windmills in the Netherlands. (2017, December 05). Retrieved March

   1, 2019, from



William Earls, el.  FLOOD PREVENTION AND MOSE MOBILE FLOODGATES. (2017, March,