Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Royal Netherlands
Institute for Sea Research
Phone number
+31 (0)113 577 452
Senior Scientist
  • Remote sensing, Earth Observation and Geo-Information Science; Big Data
  • Coastal, estuarine & delta systems
  • Geomorphology, biogeomorphology, biophysical interactions & benthic ecology
  • Nature based flood defence & ecosystem based solutions
  • Aquatic systems and water quality

Prof. Dr. Daphne van der Wal

Senior Scientist

Specialisation & Current positions

I am a physical geographer, specialized in coastal processes (PhD 1999, University of Amsterdam; postdoctoral research fellow 1999 up to 2002 at Royal Holloway, University of London). 

In 2002, I joined NIOO/NIOZ in Yerseke, focusing on remote sensing of tidal (eco)systems.

Since Oct 2017, I am also part-time full professor at the University of Twente, Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC).

I focus on remote sensing and geo-informatics of coastal and estuarine systems and processes. An overview of my research interests can be found in my inaugural lecture:


Remote sensing of tidal (eco)systems

The central theme of my work is to assess interactions between organisms (such as saltmarshes, algae, shellfish) and their environment, shaping the estuarine, delta and coastal landscape, including both the bottom sediment and the water column.

Current research topics

  • Saltmarsh and mangrove development
  • Solutions for nature-based flood defence
  • Dynamics and management of (intertidal) sediments
  • Structuring and functioning of benthic fauna communities
  • Benthic-pelagic interactions in tidal systems
  • Primary production of tidal flats and waters
  • Suspended sediments and sediment transport in coastal waters

Methods & techniques

I use remote sensing techniques and geo-informatics to investigate coastal and estuarine systems and processes:

  • forward and inverse modelling with remote sensing data (radar/SAR, optical and TIR satellite data, hyperspectral and LIDAR airborne data, near-surface and field measurements), and big (satellite) data analyses
  • spatial analyses in Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • combination of earth observation with field surveys and experiments, and (hydrodynamic) models



for a postdoctoral researcher in ocean colour remote sensing:

effects of wind farms on turbidity

Apply here and find more information on the project here



Feature article on saltmarsh erosion and expansion 

Laengner, M.L.; Siteur, K.; van der Wal, D. (2019). Trends in the seaward extent of saltmarshes across Europe from long-term satellite data. Remote Sensing 11(14): 1653.


Selected projects

- NWO/NSO Ruimteonderzoek, “Saltmarshes under stress: thresholds for saltmarsh dynamics from global satellite data” (MARSH), PhD candidate at NIOZ: Marieke Laengner, started 2017.

- STW Perspective AllRisk – Implementing new flood safety norms. Project Foreshore Ecosystems Management. candidate NIOZ: Beatriz Marin Diaz (joint supervision NIOZ/RUG: Tjeerd Bouma, Han Olff, Laura Govers, Daphne van der Wal)

- EU FP7 SPACE - FAST "Foreshore Assessment using Space Technology". Consortium Deltares, University of Cambridge, NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, University of Cadiz, GeoEcoMar.  PhD candidate at NIOZ: Bas Oteman,  started 2014.

- NWO/NSO Ruimteonderzoek: “Benthic diatoms as indicator for ecosystem structuring in shallow tidal waters. PhD candidate at NIOZ Tisja Daggers, started 2013.

- NWO/NSO Ruimteonderzoek: "Consequences of global change for ecosystem engineering of shellfish". PhD-candidate at NIOZ Sil Nieuwhof, started 2012. See Sil's PhD thesis.

Feature EU FAST project:

Foreshore Assessment using Space Technology


FAST has developed services to help design nature-based flood risk strategies in foreshores, based on earth observation data and big data analysis capabilities.

Read more on EU FAST in the associated article on this Copernicus downstream service for coastal needs.

Have a tour around the Danube Delta in Romania, one of the field sites in the EU FAST project!

See our instructional videos on field techniques, for example on the use of sedimentation sensors, as used in Willemsen et al. (2018), Hu et al. (2018), Hu et al. (2017) and Hu et al. (2015).

Watch the instructional video on using the sedimentation sensors:

See also the synthesis of results of the EU FAST project.


MI SAFE tool to calculate wave attenuation over vegetated foreshores around the globe (tool currently not active):

Linked news

Monday 19 February 2018
Zelforganisatie onderwaterplanten houdt rivieren gezond
Onderwaterplanten spelen een essentiële rol om rivieren en waterlopen gezond te houden. Biologe Loreta Cornacchia van het Koninklijk Instituut voor Onderzoek der Zee (NIOZ) ondervond dat de waterplant sterrenkroos een regelmatig verspreid 'klonterig'…
Friday 09 June 2017
Langzamer herstel kondigt kantelpunten aan in kustecosystemen
~ ENGLISH version below Dutch version ~ Ecosystemen kunnen plotseling verloren gaan wanneer de druk te groot wordt. Het voorspellen van het kantelpunt is dan ook van groot belang. Wiskundige modellen lieten al mogelijke waarschuwingssignalen zien.…

NIOZ publications

Linked projects

FAST_Foreshore assessment using space technology
Daphne van der Wal
European Community
Project duration
1 Jan 2014 - 31 Dec 2017
NWO_BenthicDiatoms as indicators for ecosystem structuring in tidal shallow waters
Daphne van der Wal
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Project duration
1 Jul 2013 - 1 Feb 2018
NWO_Ruimteonderzoek_Consequences of global change for ecosystem engineering of shellfish
Daphne van der Wal
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Project duration
1 Jan 2012 - 30 Aug 2016
MARSH_Saltmarshes under stress
Daphne van der Wal
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Project duration
1 Jul 2016 - 30 Jun 2020