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River2Morrow is a research program which focusses on long term development of lowland rivers, with respect to morphology, hydraulics and ecology. The focus is on system knowledge. We want to know how lowland rivers respond to climate change, which obviously influences the downstream boundary (the sea level) and the upstream boundary (the river discharge). Also the sediment supply at the upstream boundary will most probably change, not only as a result of climate change, but also as a result of anthropogenic interference. Furthermore, in many river systems (and at least in the Dutch Rhine branches and the Meuse River), many measures to reduce flood risk have been constructed in the past 2-3 decades. Although every individual measure has been designed such that morphological changes are supposed to be minimized, the combined morphological effects in the next decades to century is still highly uncertain. Also the assessment of ecological changes (succession of vegetation) and the effects thereof on hydrology and morphology remains challenging. In Rivers2Morrow, we are interested in the long term responds of the river system. Therefore, Rivers2Morrow can be seen as the successor of the research program RiverCare which found its inspiration in the program Room for the River and which studied the (among other things) the morphological and ecological consequences of longitudinal dams, side channels and other restoration measures.


The overall research question that we want to answer is hence how a lowland river system in general responds to changes, in the evolution towards a new (dynamical) equilibrium. Rhine and Meuse river act as case studies and living labs to test the various theories.

Rivers2Morrow is fully funded by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and its executive organization Rijkswaterstaat for the period 2018-2023. Consultancy companies participated in the set up of the program and assist and participate in the research. Rivers2Morrow builds upon the knowledge that is developed within RiverCare.

NCR facilitated the process that led to Rivers2Morrow and hosts the website of Rivers2Morrow.

Research questions

Rivers2Morrow addresses the following six research questions:

  1. What is the long term response of Rhine and Meuse on sea level rise and other changing boundary conditions, and how do we predict that response.
  2. How do interactions between water, silt, sand, salt and vegetation determine the long term development of the deltaic area of lowland river systems, and how can we apply this knowledge for sustainable maintenance, management and operations.
  3. How will the sediment supply towards the delta, the partitioning and spread of sediment within the delta and the composition of the river bed change as a result of changing climate, changing land use, constructions of measures and other influence of other anthropogenic developments.
  4. How do changing boundary conditions, the temporal and spatial developments of the river system and the anthropogenic developments influence the opportunities for the development of anticipated of nature development and what strategy of creating, maintaining and operating increase these opportunities.
  5. What are the hydro-morphological effects due to the heterogeneity of the subsoil of lowland rivers, on the formation of bedforms (bars and dunes) and bed features (e.g. scour holes) and what is the influence of changing boundary conditions.
  6. How can we improve models (hydraulic, ecological, morphological) such that their predicting value improves, the predicting horizon extents, and the results will be acquired in a shorter time.

Download the extended research plan (Dutch, PDF)


Three PhD-candidates have started and will start in the second part of 2018 and work on research question 1. Jana Cox already started at Utrecht University on sediment management in the deltaic area (description (PDF)) and Claudia Ylla Arbos starts in December 2018 at the Technical University of Delft working on sediment issues in the upper delta (description (Dutch, PDF), in Dutch). At Wageningen University Research, Judith Poelman started her PhD-research also in the second part of 2018 , working on research question 3. She studies new methods to predict sediment transport (description (PDF)). Early 2019, a PhD candidate will start working on bifurcation points at the University of Twente, contributing to research question 1 and 3. A working plan is available (download (PDF)).




Related NCR Partners

Delft University of Technology

University of Twente


Utrecht University

Wageningen UR

Contact Details

Ralph Schielen (

General Info

Duration: from 2018 to 2023

Research positions: 4


Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management


  • climate adaptation
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Hydrology
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Morphodynamics
  • sediment transport
  • Water Management