ZuiderZee


ZuiderZee
Zui·der Zee (zīʹdər zēʹ, zāʹ, zoiʹdər zāʹ)
A former shallow inlet of the North Sea in northeast Netherlands. Originally a lake, it was joined with the North Sea by heavy flooding. A dike, completed in 1932, turned the southern section into the Ijsselmeer, which has largely been reclaimed for agriculture.

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(Dutch; "Southern Sea")

Former inlet of the North Sea, northern coast of The Netherlands.

From the 13th to the 20th century, it penetrated The Netherlands and occupied 2,000 sq mi (5,000 sq km), separated from the North Sea by an arc of former sand flats that are now the West Frisian Islands. Frisian peoples inhabited the sand flats from с AD 400 and built the first sea works, considered engineering marvels, to stem rising sea levels. The control of water levels within the dikes developed into the reclamation of lowlands (polders) from the water. Between 1927 and 1932 a dam 19 mi (30 km) long was built across the Zuiderzee, separating it into the Waddenzee and the IJsselmeer. By the early 1980s four polders (of five proposed), largely agricultural land, had been created.

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inlet, The Netherlands
English  Southern Sea 
 former inlet of the North Sea. From the 13th to the 20th century, the Zuiderzee penetrated The Netherlands (Netherlands, The) and occupied some 2,000 square miles (5,000 square km); it was separated from the North Sea by an arc of former sandflats that are now the West Frisian Islands. From about AD 400 these low-lying sandflats were inhabited by the Frisians, who in the face of rising sea levels built the first seaworks—dikes and terpen (or werden), mounds to which they retreated during periods of high water. The volume of these terpen ranks them among the great engineering works of humankind.

      The territory that subsequently became the Zuiderzee was in the 1st century AD a mixture of lowland and freshwater lakes, including the central and largest of the lakes, called Flevo Lacus by the Romans. These lakes did not connect directly with the sea but emptied by way of a branch of the Rhine River. Later, however, during a period of rising sea level (AD 250–600), the river and the central lake were enlarged. A period of lower sea levels followed, but in the 13th century, notably during 1219 and 1282, further flooding submerged wide areas and created the Zuiderzee proper.

      By about AD 1000, however, the terpen area had been completely enclosed by dikes. The controlling of water levels within the dikes developed into the practice of reclaiming tracts of lowland from a body of water (see polder). By 1667 the making of polders had developed to the point that the damming of the Zuiderzee was proposed. A feasible method, however, was not forthcoming until the flood of 1916 hastened the adoption of a plan developed by Cornelis Lely. In 1927–32 a dam 19 miles (30 km) long, known as the Afsluitdijk (“Enclosing Dam”), was built across the Zuiderzee, separating it into the outer Waddenzee (open to the North Sea) and the inner IJsselmeer (Lake IJssel). By the early 1980s four polders, largely agricultural land, had been created through an elaborately constructed system of pumping stations, dikes, sluices, and locks. Nearly half the IJsselmeer (IJsselmeer Polders) of the 1920s (626 square miles [1,620 square km] of a total 1,328 square miles [3,440 square km]) has been reclaimed and the much-reduced IJsselmeer has gradually become fresh water. The completion of a proposed fifth polder, Markerwaard, was abandoned in the 1980s. See also IJsselmeer Polders.

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Universalium. 2010.

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