River Mouth Systems and Marginal Seas - Natural drivers and human impacts

Online Conference

Oder river mouth system, southern Baltic Sea
  • LocationOnline via Zoom
  • HostUniversity of Szczecin, National Museum in Szczecin, International Baltic Earth Secretariat at Helmholtz Zentrum Hereon
  • ContributorVarious speakers

Thank you to all participants from all around the world, making this such an extraordinary conference!

Approximately 150 scientists from 21 countries exchanged ideas and discussed current research issues in large and small estuarine systems, ranging from marginal and coastal seas in the US and South Africa, the Elbe and Rhône deltas in Europe to the Brahmaputra and Ganges, and other large river mouth system in China and other parts of Asia. Various aspects were discussed, from the evolution of river deltas over geological and historical times, to the current influences of climate change and the extensive use and reshaping of these regions by humans.

Human impact on river deltas and coastal regions (river regulation, land reclamation, coastal development, sand extraction, sinking coastal cities, etc.) around the world is pervasive and dominant. A challenge for the future will be to work out, through modern observation, analysis and modeling methods, the mutual influences of climate change (sea level rise, changes in river sediment loads due to changes in rainfall and runoff) and the other human influences to support regional coastal management. In doing so, the global exchange of experiences, case studies, lessons learned, and approaches, as done during this conference, will be very helpful.


River mouths such as deltas, coastal embayments and estuaries form the gateways from the continents to the oceans, which have been attractive for people to settle along the coastal zones over the long period of human settlement history. The natural environment of marginal seas and their coastal zones are increasingly threatened by climate change induced rising sea-level, floods, storms, tsunamis, coastal erosion and anthropogenically induced environmental hazards. To mitigate the threats effective strategies for sustainable development of the coastal zones have to be elaborated.

Since 2020, an international inititive promoting Marginal Seas Research has been launched within the frame of the Deep-time Digital Earth Program (DDE) of the IUGS. The mission of the intitiative is the development of a general strategy for describing the processes in marginal seas holistically as an interaction between geo-, ecosystem, climate and socioeconomic systems at the zone of transition between continents and oceans. Within the frame of this initiative, comparative studies of marginal seas’ functionality are fostered in order to contribute to generalized concepts of sustainable management of the marine and coastal environment of marginal seas in different climatic zones and geological-tectonic settings.

To study the interrelation between natural and anthropogenic drivers exemplarily it is planned to promote targeted research for a deeper understanding of the river mouth systems’ development from the pristine past to the anthropogenically dominated present.

The complexity of the processes to be studied requires research teams made up of earth and life scientists, climatologists, archaeologists, historians, socio-economists, modelers and IT specialists. Representatives of these disciplines are invited to the conference to jointly discuss the effects of climate change and anthropogenic activities in the area of densely populated river mouth systems on the marine and coastal environment. Thus, the time span of the processes to be examined must range from the pristine status through early human settlements to the industrialized epoch of the present day of the river estuary systems. From this discussion, recommendations for the development of general numerical models to manage river mouth systems for their sustainable development are expected.

Registration deadline is 1 December. Registered participants will receive a zoom link shortly before the conference. Conference language is English.


Session 1
Climate change and River mouth systems
In this session, general questions about the role of climate change and related sea level rise, frequency and direction of storm events and their role as driver of the dynamics of the river mouths and related coastal systems shall be discussed. To what extent can climate models help for future projections of this dynamics and the frequency of coastal hazards? Theoretical approaches and practical experiences to answer these and related questions are welcome.

Session 2
Human activities and environmental impacts from the past to the future
The socio-economic conditions of the gateways between continents and oceans have always attracted people to use and shape these habitats. The historical reconstruction of these processes and the description of their current dynamics are irreplaceable for the design of future balancing economic use and preservation of natural environment. The participation of geoscientists and life-scientists, historians and archaeologists, socio-economists, engineers and modelers in the discussion of these questions is expressly encouraged.

Session 3
Proxy-records and modern observations
Data sets need to describe not only the current functionality of river mouth systems but have to include the history from the pristine paleo-environment to the current anthropogenically impacted regime. The time spans to be represented by data are trending from millennial to the seasonal scale. The records include paleo-data - derived by “decoding” of sedimentary proxies - to current monitoring and data measured in real-time. The interpretation of proxy data demands a cooperation between geoscientists, climatologists, historians and archaeologists. The identification of the onset of human effects on the environment and its future projection are needed preconditions to foster strategies for sustainable development of industrialized coastal embayments and estuaries to be discussed.

Session 4
Advanced data management and modeling
One target of the conference is to contribute to the comparison of river mouth systems on the global scale based on standardized data, numerical models and methods of AI and ML. This standardization can help to provide generalized concepts for sustainable development of river mouth systems to balance the protection of their environment and the economic use of their resources. The focus on harmonizing and processing of interdisciplinary data on the disciplinary scale between natural sciences, socioeconomics, archaeology and technical sciences requires transdisciplinary data management and modeling approaches. This data integration based on the FAIR principle (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) will be discussed in this session.

Call for Papers (terminated, no more abstracts will be accepted)

You are invited to send an abstract for an oral presentation for one of the sessions specified above, by 13 November 2022. An abstract booklet will be published prior to the conference.

Authors are advised to send an abstract (see template download below) of up to one page (max. 500 words) to by the Abstract Submission Deadline of 13 November 2022.

Authors are advised to download and use the abstract template below (.docx or .odt.)

In the template, please indicate to which session you would like your contribution to be assigned (may be changed by the Conference Committee).

Please note that the abstract will be reviewed by the Conference Committee, and those abstracts will be selected for oral presentation that are relevant for the conference scope and meet the scientific standards. The committee will set the time for presentations so that parallel sessions are avoided.


Participation in the conferece is free of charge but interested participants must register online here via the registration link below. Registration deadline is 1 December 2022. Registered participants will receive the zoom link for online participation shortly before the confence.


A publication of research papers of the presentations is planned as a Special Issue of an internationally acknowledged scientific journal.

Call for Papers

Special Issue in
Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science
Submission open now until 31 August! More infos here...

Conference Booklet

including the programme, abstracts and participation list... Conference Booklet download... (3,3 MB)

Final Programme available

Download programme... (297 KB)

Scientific Committee

Helge Arz, Germany
Ryszard Krzysztof Borówka , Poland
Hayley Cawthra, South Africa
Peter Clift, USA
Joanna Dudzińska-Nowak, Poland
Federica Foglini, Italy
Snigdha Ghatak, India
Gary Greene, USA
Jan Harff, Poland (chair)
Niels Hovius, Germany
Hauke Jöns, Germany
Anna Bogumiła Kowalska, Poland
Paul Liu, USA
Markus Meier, Germany
Andrzej Osadczuk, Poland
Paul Overduin, Germany
Richard Peltier, Canada
Marcus Reckermann, Germany
Tarmo Soomere, Estonia
Andrzej Witkowski, Poland
Xinong Xie, China
Guangsheng Yan, China
Jinpeng Zhang, China
Wenyan Zhang, Germany

Organizing Committee

Joanna Dudzińska-Nowak, Poland (chair)
Jan Harff, Poland
Rachel Jankowski, Poland
Silke Köppen, Hereon, Germany
Anna Bogumiła Kowalska, Poland
Marcus Reckermann, Germany
Agnieszka Strelecka, Poland


Prof. Dr. Waldemar Tarczyński, Rector of the University of Szczecin

- University of Szczecin, Institute of Marine and Environmental Sciences
- National Museum in Szczecin
- International Baltic Earth Secretariat at Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon

- DDE Marginal Seas Task Group (the conference will serve as the 5th Marginal Seas Expert Meeting of the DDE Marginal Seas Task Group)
- Guangzhou Marine Geological Survey / China Geological Survey
- Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research
- Section of Marine Geology, Polish Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research, Polish Academy of Sciences

Time line

1st Announcement
11 October 2022

2nd Announcement
21 October 2022

Abstract deadline
13 November 2022

Programme online
28 November 2022

Registration open
28 October2022

Registration deadline
1 December 2022

5-7 December 2022


Marcus Reckermann

International Baltic Earth Secretariat

Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon, Geesthacht, Germany

+49 4152 87 1693

E-mail contact