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Dr. Gerald Herrling



Coastal Dynamics


+49 421 218-65683



FVG-Ost, room 0060

Gerald Herrling

Research Interest

Within the research group Coastal Dynamics, my projects deal with the short- and mid-term morphological and sedimentological response of barrier island systems in the Wadden Sea and of the Outer Weser estuary to extreme events such as storm surges and to fair-weather hydrodynamic conditions.

The highly dynamic East Frisian barrier island system (southern North Sea) is characterized by a complex morphology of tidal inlets, ebb-tidal deltas and foreshore beaches that reacts to storms and fair-weather conditions with characteristic patterns of sediment grain-size distributions. Waves on depth-limiting ebb-tidal delta shoals, bars, beaches or tidal flats together with enhanced alongshore and transversal currents can be considered as the main drivers for short-term morphological and sedimentological changes. Nowadays, the driving forces of extreme events can be measured and modeled reasonably well, but the underlying morphological development is still poorly understood due to a lack of suitable field observations. Process-based numerical models offer an alternative means of improving our understanding of the underlying physical processes. Coupled hydro- and morphodynamic models including the interaction of waves are applied to hindcast extreme events and be used to predict sediment pathways and bed elevation changes under complex interacting processes.

I am particularly interested in understanding the spatiotemporal variability of the morphology and surficial sediment grain-size distribution in response to different hydrodynamic drivers and scenarios. Model investigations require taking into account the response of the surface sedimentology by applying multiple graded sediment fractions. At barrier island tidal inlets, for example, this allows differentiating sediment pathways and bypassing of particular sand fractions. Scenario simulations have been set-up to study the sedimentological response to storm clusters compared to single storm events. Morphodynamic models are further applied to estimate adaptation timescales of the morphology and particularly the surface sedimentology from post-storm to fair-weather conditions.

Study area at the Outer Weser estuary (Project MorphoWeser)

Study area at the East Frisian barrier island system in the Wadden Sea, southern North Sea

Project Funding

MorphoWeser is a research project in cooperation with and financed by the Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute (Bundesanstalt für Wasserbau, BAW) in Hamburg, Germany


1997 Sept. - 2001 MayCivil Engineering at University of Karlsruhe, Germany
2001 Oct. - 2003 AprilMaster of Science in Coastal Geosciences and Engineering, CORELAB, University of Kiel, Germany
2002 Nov. - 2003 Feb.Master thesis in cooperation with SIMEPAR in Curitiba, Brazil - “Development of a numerical model of the Paranaguá Bay in Brazil”
2003 May - 2005 Dec.Continuation of Civil Engineering studies at University of Hanover, Germany
2005 June - 2005 Sept.
German diploma thesis in cooperation with institute of coastal engineering, University of Ghent, Belgium - “An integrated study approach of wave propagation applying a Boussinesq model in Oostende Harbour“
2006 March - 2011 Feb.Employment as research associate at Coastal Research Station - NLWKN, Norderney, Germany
2011 Feb. - 2014 Oct.PhD student at MARUM, 'Morphodynamics of barrier island systems' (PhD defense March 2015)
since Nov. 2014Project MorphoWeser at MARUM in cooperation with Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute (BAW, Hamburg)


  • Herrling G, Winter C (2016): Spatiotemporal variability of sedimentology and morphology in the East Frisian barrier island system. Geo-Marine Lett., 1–13. DOI: 10.1007/s00367-016-0462-6
  • Herrling G, Winter C (2015): Tidally- and wind-driven residual circulation at the multiple-inlet system East Frisian Wadden Sea. Cont. Shelf Res., 106: 45–59. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.csr.2015.06.001
  • Herrling G, Elsebach J, Ritzmann A (2014): Evaluation of Changes in the Tidal Regime of the Ems-Dollard and Lower Weser Estuaries by Mathematical Modelling. Die Küste, 81: 353 ff.
  • Herrling G, Winter C (2014): Morphological and sedimentological response of a mixed-energy barrier island tidal inlet to storm and fair-weather conditions. Earth Surface Dynamics, 2(1): 363–82. DOI: 10.5194/esurf-2-363-2014

Conference talks

  • Herrling G, Winter C (2016): Barrier island ebb-tidal delta sediment dynamics in response to a synthetic sequence of extreme storms. PECS. Scheveningen, Netherlands
  • Herrling G (2015): Historical development of the Ems-Dollard estuary and reconstruction of the tidal regime prior to major human impacts. Invitation by the Waddenacademie to the Ems-Dollard symposium, Delfzijl, Netherlands
  • Herrling G, Winter C (2015): Residual circulation patterns of a multiple-inlet system: implications for sedimentology and morphology. RCEM. Iquitos, Peru
  • Herrling G, Winter C (2013): Barrier island inlet dynamics and ebb-tidal delta sediment bypassing under high-energy storm and fair-weather conditions. RCEM. Santander, Spain
  • Herrling G, Winter C (2012): Morphological response of shoreface-connected ridges to high-energy hydrodynamic conditions. PECS. New York, USA
  • Herrling G, Winter C (2012): The effect of high-energy events on barrier island foreshore sedimentology and morphology – a process-based model study. TIDALITES. Caen, France
  • Herrling G, Knaack H, Kaiser R, Niemeyer HD (2010): Evaluation of design water levels at the Ems-Dollard estuary considering the effect of a storm surge barrier. ICCE. Shanghai, China
  • Herrling G, Knaack H, Kaiser R, Niemeyer HD (2010): Reproduction of storm surges and evaluation of design water levels at the Ems-Dollard estuary by mathematical modeling. SSC, Storm Surge Conference. Hamburg, Germany
  • Herrling G, Elsebach J (2008): Assessment criteria for the identification of human impacs on water bodies by morphodynamic investigation. ICCE, Hamburg, Germany
  • Herrling G, Niemeyer HD (2008): Changes of the Hydrodynamic Regime due to Historical Pressures on Estuarine Geomorphology; the Example of the Ems-Dollard Estuary, German-Dutch Ems Workshop, Emden, Germany

Conference proceedings

  • Herrling G, Winter C (2014): Grain-size dependent sediment bypassing at barrier island tidal inlets. Proceedings of the 17th Physics of Estuaries and Coastal Seas (PECS) conference. Porto de Galinhas, Brazil; 2014.
  • Herrling G, Knaack H, Kaiser R, Niemeyer HD (2011): Evaluation of design water levels at the Ems-Dollard estuary considering the effect of a storm surge barrier. Coastal Engineering Proceedings. Shanghai, China; 2010, 1-32. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.9753/icce.v32.management.43
  • Herrling G, Elsebach J. (2008): Assessment criteria for the identification of human impacts on water bodies by morphodynamic investigations. Coastal Engineering Proceedings. Hamburg, Germany; 2008. 5-31, p. 4620–4632.