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Shallow groundwater in landscapes under change.

Water in the shallow subsurface controls life on earth. It provides drinking water and is the first control on vegetation growth. This water is also the local-scale terrestrial transport vehicle for carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus; key building blocks of life. On longer timescales, it regulates soil formation, erosion and sedimentation, and accumulation and decay of organic matter. Water in the shallow subsurface thus is a crucial link in the adaptation of humans and landscapes to a changing climate. These adaptations ultimately feed back into the climate, intensifying or stabilising climate change. My group studies the role of shallow groundwater in the feedbacks between climate and landscape. The hydrological innovation is that we go beyond treating the subsurface as a constant medium that facilitates water storage and flow: we see the shallow subsurface as an evolving carrier of adapting landscapes.

My research at the VU has focused on landscapes in transition, and especially on the changes induced by shallow groundwater presence and flows. My group currently studies soil subsidence, greenhouse gas emissions and the evolution of peatlands in the Netherlands, Canada, Scandinavia and Ireland, urban deltas and permafrost thaw in the Arctic. Within all these topics the role of shallow groundwater in landscape change is the central theme. 


Permafrost thaw impacts on artic river flows. NWO 2016

Effecten van vernattingsmaatregelen op bodemdaling, broeikasgasuitstoot en oxidatie van veenbodems, STOWA, 2019

NOBV, Need for peat. LNV, 2020

Irish Peatland Resilience (IPR) to changing climate and increased frequency and severity of drought ( EPA 2021)

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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 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation


  • Q Science
  • Water
  • catchment
  • critical zone
  • S Agriculture
  • Water


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