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Dr Van der Woerd’s PhD research took place at the Dutch national laboratory for space research (SRON), which resulted in a thesis on satellite-based X-ray observations from close-binary stars. Subsequently, he worked as research fellow for two years for the European Space Agency on the interpretation of satellite data. In 1989 he started his career in Earth Observation with work on chemistry/transport modelling of the stratosphere in combination with remote sensing observations of the ozone layer. He was deeply involved in the introduction of Remote Sensing of the atmospheric trace gas composition with validation of the ESA GOME instrument. This has been the start for his enthusiasm to develop Remote-Sensing applications in fundamental and applied environmental research. From 1998 this work has expanded to the general field of Remote Sensing of the environment at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He became head of the Remote Sensing Unit and responsible for acquisition, project management and scientific output. In this capacity he has built up an extensive project management track record.

He is a very dedicated scientist who is able to analyse complex problems, construct and manage a detailed work plan to generate solutions. These solutions always involve sound physical and mathematical procedures. He is able to work in pure research and applied research and likes to teach at the highest levels.

Check out his 60plus publications: Web of Science: Author ID: K-9812-2013, Research Gate: Hans J van der Woerd.


He is truly a generalist in satellite observations and their applications. He has an extremely wide scientific interest, as is shown in the over 60 articles in 25 different journals and over 50 reports that are mainly based on satellite observations from stars, atmosphere, water and land.  

In the last 15 years most articles dealt with the retrieval of water composition in complex coastal and inland waters. However, his strength lies in the combination with other disciplines, like microbiology, oceanography, citizen’s science, monitoring and water management, validation, economic valuation. 

Key words: satellite data, radiative transfer, inversion techniques, physics, instrumental characterization, monitoring strategy, teaching 


1987: PhD in Mathematics and Physics, University of Amsterdam.

1982: MSc Astronomy with Physics and Mathematics, University of Amsterdam.

1978: BSc in Physics and Astronomy (Cum Laude), University of Amsterdam.


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Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water


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  • Partner voor Water Award

    Laanen, M.L. (Recipient), Bakkenist, S. (Recipient) & van der Woerd, H.J. (Recipient), 27 Nov 2012