dr.ir. B.W. Borsje (Bas)

Associate Professor

About Me


Please have a look here for a movie showing Bas' work and click the "Meet the 'Featured Scientists' University of Twente" button to find out more.


Dr. ir. Bas Borsje is an expert in the field of Building with Nature, more specifically in nature-based coastal protection. Bas holds a master in Civil Engineering (cum laude), a PhD in Ecological Engineering (cum laude), a VENI and a VIDI grant in Nature-based flood protection and is PI of the NWA-ORC project "Living Dikes" from 2021 onwards.


Bas' research group consists of 13 PhD students (4 finished, 7 ongoing and 2 vacant) and 8 postdocs (3 finished, 3 ongoing and 2 vacant). For all positions, he was (co-)applicant and/or member of the core writing team (see projects). Moreover, he supervised 40 MSc students and 11 BSc students.



Since 2020  Associate Professor Nature-based Flood Protection, Faculty of Engineering Technology, University of Twente, the Netherlands.


2012        PhD research: Biogeomorphology of coastal seas. Awarded: cum laude. Collaboration between Department of Spatial Ecology, Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) and Department of Water Engineering and Management, Faculty of Engineering Technology, University of Twente.

2006            Master in Civil Engineering. Thesis: Biological influence on sediment transport and bed composition for the Western Wadden Sea. Awarded: cum laude. MSc-project executed at Deltares, Delft, the Netherlands. 


Earth & Environmental Sciences
Sand Wave
Agriculture & Biology
Salt Marshes


Key success of Bas' track-record is the combined use of field campaigns, flume experiments and model studies to understand the inherent dynamics of small-scale biota (i.e. vegetation and benthic organisms) and the large-scale landscape. Bas managed to publish his research results in ecological, physical as well as interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journals. 


Hu, Z. , Borsje, B. W., Belzen, J. , Willemsen, P. W. J. M. , Wang, H., Peng, Y., Yuan, L., De Dominicis, M., Wolf, J., Temmerman, S., & Bouma, T. J. (2021). Mechanistic Modeling of Marsh Seedling Establishment Provides a Positive Outlook for Coastal Wetland Restoration Under Global Climate Change. Geophysical research letters, 48(22), [e2021GL095596]. https://doi.org/10.1029/2021GL095596
Cheng, C. H., De Smit, J. C., Fivash, G. S. , Hulscher, S. J. M. H. , Borsje, B. W., & Soetaert, K. (2021). Sediment shell-content diminishes current-driven sand ripple development and migration. Earth Surface Dynamics, 9(5), 1335-1346. https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-9-1335-2021
Krabbendam, J., Nnafie, A., de Swart, H. , Borsje, B., & Perk, L. (2021). Modelling the Past and Future Evolution of Tidal Sand Waves. Journal of marine science and engineering, 9(10), [1071]. https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse9101071
Siemes, R. W. A. , Borsje, B. W., Daggenvoorde, R. J. , & Hulscher, S. J. M. H. (2021). Kwelderbouwers hun tijd ver vooruit. Land + water, (5), 14-15.
Hespen, R., Hu, Z., Peng, Y. , Borsje, B. W., Kleinhans, M., Ysebaert, T., Bouma, T. J., & Bouma, T. J. (2021). Analysis of coastal storm damage resistance in successional mangrove species. Limnology and oceanography, 66(8), 3221-3236. https://doi.org/10.1002/lno.11875
Cheng, C. H. , Borsje, B. W., Beauchard, O., O'flynn, S., Ysebaert, T., & Soetaert, K. (2021). Small‐scale macrobenthic community structure along asymmetrical sand waves in an underwater seascape. Marine Ecology, 42(3), [e12657]. https://doi.org/10.1111/maec.12657
Krabbendam, J. M., Nnafie, A., Perk, L. M. , Borsje, B. W., & de Swart, H. E. (2021). Modelling the observed evolution of tidal sand waves in the North Sea. 27. Abstract from NCK Days 2021, Netherlands. https://www.nck-web.org/content/documents/2021/Book_of_Abstracts_2021.pdf
Hu, Z. , Willemsen, P. W. J. M. , Borsje, B. W., Wang, C., Wang, H. , van der Wal, D., Zhu, Z. , Oteman, B. F., Vuik, V., Evans, B., Möller, I., Belliard, J-P., Van Braeckel, A., Temmerman, S., & Bouma, T. J. (2021). Synchronized high-resolution bed-level change and biophysical data from 10 marsh–mudflat sites in northwestern Europe. Earth system science data, 13(2), 405-416. https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-13-405-2021

UT Research Information System

Google Scholar Link


Bas is track coordinator for all students Water Engineering and Management (50-60 students yearly). Further, Bas is the overall coordinator and teacher of the 2 nd-year MSc course Advanced Research Skills at the University of Twente (around 30-35 students yearly, 5 ECTS) and the 2 nd-year BSc course Fluid Mechanics II (80-90 students yearly, 2 ECTS). Bas was awarded the "Civil Engineering Teacher of the Year 2020" award.

Affiliated Study Programmes



Courses Academic Year  2021/2022

Courses in the current academic year are added at the moment they are finalised in the Osiris system. Therefore it is possible that the list is not yet complete for the whole academic year.

Courses Academic Year  2020/2021


In his role as (co-)applicant and/or member of the core-writing team, Bas proposed and coordinated 11 research programs. The most prestigious research grant for young researchers in the Netherlands is the VENI grant. The grant allowed him to start working independently and initiate his own research field, which was even more stimulated after receiving the prestigious NWA-ORC grant for his Living Dikes project.


Project title Funding source                Period   PhD/
See 1 
EU FP7 2013-2017                -
BE SAFE                             
See 2
2013-2021 2 PhD
See 3
2014-2021 2 PhD
See 4
2015-2021 1 PhD
VENI grant
See 5
2015-2019 Personal Grant
Sustainable Deltas
See 6
2017-2022 -
See 7
2018-2022 1 PhD
See 8
UT 2020 3 Post-docs
See 9
2020-2025 3 PhD students 
See 10
2021-2023 1 Post-doc
Living Dikes
See 11
NWA-ORC 2020-2026 2 PhD students
1 Post-doc


  1. Marine foreshores are currently not included in water safety assessments and in levee design. River floodplains are only managed to maximize river discharge capacity. However, foreshores and floodplains deliver several services, such as increasing sedimentation, reducing erosion and attenuating waves that mitigate flood risk by improving levee stability and lifetime. Including foreshores and floodplains in levee design and safety assessments can result in considerable cost reductions for flood risk management. The FAST (Foreshore Assessment using Space Technology) project aims to develop a new GMES/Copernicus downstream service by developing products based on Sentinel data to gain spatial information on foreshore and floodplain characteristics, such as morphology, sediment characteristics and vegetation properties. From Deltares, I was involved in the FAST project.
  2. The BE SAFE project aims to develop new governance arrangements for the implementation and realization of vegetated foreshores in flood protection, through new coalitions of parties from government, private sector and nature organizations. Overall, the project will provide the tools and insights to implement innovative vegetated foreshore solutions in future dyke reinforcements and flood management projects in the Netherlands and abroad. I act as daily-supervisor for 1 PhD student at the UT (ir. Pim Willemsen) and served as co-supervisor of 1 PhD student (Ir. Vincent Vuik) together with Delft University of Technology.
  3.  Shallow coastal seas are subjected to increasing pressures from offshore operations, like sand mining and the construction and operation of offshore infrastructure. The SANDBOX project aims to develop knowledge and design rules for smart and sustainable use of the sandy seabed. Simultaneously, we will study how we can take advantage of offshore operations to make the local marine environment more attractive in terms of biodiversity by introducing the practice of ecological landscaping. I act as co-supervisor for 1 PhD student at the UT (Ir. Johan Damveld) and serve as co-supervisor of 1 PhD student (Chiu Cheng MSc) together with NIOZ.
  4.  Nourishments play a key role in the coastal protection strategy of the Netherlands. Since 2000, a volume of approximately 12 million m3 has been supplemented along the total Dutch coastal zone annually. An increase of these volumes is expected because of the impacts of accelerated sea-level rise, increased storminess and subsidence. Especially in the Wadden region, the sediment volume in the coastal zone has decreased significantly, requiring coastal maintenance through nourishments. A decision on large-scale mega-nourishments in the Wadden region is to be made in 2020. SEAWAD will collaborate with the programme KUSTGENESE2 (Deltares and Rijkswaterstaat 2015-2019) to provide the required knowledge and tools to make such a decision and design the outline of such a mega-nourishment. I act as daily-supervisor for 1 PhD student (ir. Harriette Holzhauer) at the UT.
  5. In the ForeShore project, I focused on understanding and applying wetlands in front of dikes in order to dissipate wave energy. These wetlands are able to grow with sea level rise and at the same time strengthen ecosystem functioning. Recent laboratory experiments demonstrated surprisingly high stability of coastal wetlands, even during such extreme events. However, the physical processes responsible for the stability of the bed are not yet understood. Therefore, the safety level of these measures is not certain and consequently hampers the implementation of wetlands as innovative coastal. protection measure worldwide. In combined field experiments, laboratory experiments and model studies I will investigate the stability of wetlands and specifically focus on root structure and the behavior of clays in sediment. This will lead to better understanding of (uncertainties) in the safety levels of wetlands. My expertise in investigating bio-physical interactions as well as my experience in translating fundamental research towards application makes me a perfect candidate to make this paradigm shift in coastal protection measures. The project will provide the knowledge, methods and tools required for the design of wetlands as safe and cost-effective alternative in coastal protection. Strong cooperation with end-users from the private sector, government and non-governmental organizations is embedded in the project to guarantee the implementation of my findings in practice. I am the applicant and coordinator in the Foreshore program (personal grant).
  6. Applying nature-based coastal protection to the world’s largest urban area - from science to practice (Sustainable Deltas). Nature-based coastal protection solutions are increasingly recognised as more sustainable alternatives to conventional engineering approaches to climate change. In deltas undergoing fast urbanisation, applying nature-based solutions can lead to competition for space with other land uses, e.g. land reclamation. For optimised management, the question of how much space is required by nature-based solutions is therefore important, but our current knowledge on ecosystem-size-dependent defence value and resilience is insufficient. The Sustainable Deltas project aims to develop a process-based understanding and predictive models of ecosystem size requirements and how to create ecosystems for coastal defence, using the world’s largest urban area, the Pearl River Delta in China, as model system. I am a co-applicant in the Sustainable Deltas program and am looking for utilisation perspectives within this program.
  7. The key objective of the PROCAP project is to provide new, process-based knowledge and methods that will enable companies to improve their assessments of the burial depths of cables and pipelines in areas of the North Sea where active sand waves occur. To this end, changes in the characteristics of sand waves (shape, depths and locations of their troughs) and the associated uncertainties will be determined over periods on the order of 50 years (the typical lifetime of cables and pipelines). I am a co-applicant in the PROCAP program and act as co-supervisor of 1 PhD student (Janneke Krabbendam MSc), at Utrecht University.
  8. The UT-theme “Engineering for a resilient world” brings together researchers from three faculties (ITC, BMS and ET). Within this theme, we aim to understand key physical processes in order to design a resilient world. Our ambition is to become an internationally renowned center of excellence in this field. The theme is chaired by Prof Suzanne Hulscher (Faculty of Engineering Technology group of Marine and Fluvial Systems). My role was co-supervisor of the 3 post-docs (dr. Ringo Ossewaarde, dr. Abdi Mehvar and dr. Rick Hoogeboom).
  9. Enhanced salt intrusion is expected to occur due to climate change and anthropogenic changes, such as channel deepening for shipping, threatening the availability of fresh water. There is an urgent need to understand the complex interactions between ecology, morphology and hydrodynamics in highly dynamic and fast changing deltas. Reliable models are required to support short-term operational and crisis management, medium to long-term policy development and designing (nature-based) mitigation measures. SALTI develops the next-generation decision support system (I3-Delta), building upon a suite of models including a computationally efficient 3D-model code, starting from the fundamental physical processes. The Netherlands provides an excellent ‘living lab’ for experimentation on full scale as well as for testing and validating the developed knowledge and models. Technology suppliers (software developers, consultants) and end users are actively involved in the projects comprising SALTI. SALTI will significantly strengthen the global competitive position of Dutch companies who operate in this area. I am co-applicant of the SALTI program and will act as daily-supervisor of 1 PhD student at the UT (vacant), co-supervisor of 1 PhD student at the UT (ir. Rutger Siemes) and I will be involved in the co-supervision of 1 PhD student (vacant), together with NIOZ.
  10. The economic expansion in the Western world has recently triggered an unprecedented energy rush to the coastal seas in the form of offshore windfarms (OWF). In the Dutch part of the North Sea most of these OWFs are currently located or planned in sandy areas, characterized by the presence of sand waves. These sand waves are several meters in height, hundreds of meters in wavelength and migrate with a speed of several meters per year. Our consortium (NIOZ and University of Twente and many end-users) recently showed that these large dynamic geomorphological features determine to a large extent the spatial organization of the biota and the sediment properties with possible consequences for biogeochemical functioning. Focusing on the upscaling of system effects due to offshore wind energy, we presume that changes induced by OWFs on the sediment ecosystem need to be framed in the context of how geomorphology, via its impact on hydrodynamics and sediment transport, affects benthic life and the biogeochemical functioning of the sediment. In the footprint project, we will use a combination of fieldwork, and mechanistic modelling to investigate how OWFs affect the benthic ecosystem. We will perform dedicated field campaigns to quantify the impact of OWFs on sediment and oxygen dynamics, and to establish how OWFs alter the sediment geomorphology. We will develop a new model repertoire that explicitly couples hydrodynamics, geomorphology, biogeochemistry and ecosystem descriptions. The coupled model will be tuned on the comprehensive data set acquired by the consortium and that is completed during the Footprint project. We will apply these model tools to run scenarios as a cost-effective strategy for optimizing OWF setup in order to stimulate blue growth together with our end-users. I am co-applicant of the footprint project and will act as daily-supervisor of 1 post-doc (vacant) at the UT.
  11. Living dikes are a promising way to climate‐proof our coast. Living dikes consist of a soft foreland and a green dike. This research facilitates the construction of living dikes by weighing interests, testing living dikes in the field and formulating design rules to be applied by end‐users. I am main applicant of the Living Dikes project (5 PhD students and 2 post-docs) and will act as daily-supervisor of 1 PhD student and 1 post-doc at the UT.   


On the night of November 18, 1421, a ferocious storm broke the dikes and caused one of the worst floods in Dutch history: the Sint-Elisabeths Flood. A gigantic flood disaster, which created the Biesbosch. People died and villages drowned. This disaster happened 600 years ago, but the threat from the sea is once again urgent. How do we keep our feet dry? This television program will take you along the Dutch coast, where scientific innovations such as dykes in the dunes, salt marsh management and De Zandmotor should protect us from the threatening sea. 

Link to the television program: https://lnkd.in/esAnPzZ4


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University of Twente
Faculty of Engineering Technology
Horst Complex (building no. 20), room W212
De Horst 2
7522LW  Enschede
The Netherlands

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University of Twente
Faculty of Engineering Technology
Horst Complex  W212
P.O. Box 217
7500 AE Enschede
The Netherlands

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