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Theme 1: Climate and Environmental Dynamics

Climate and environment are tightly coupled through the carbon and water cycles, and the bio-, litho- and atmospheres.

An in-depth understanding of this coupled system is the foundation for developing a sustainable future. In our research theme, we study these processes in the present, past and future. We use remote sensing, field measurements, laboratory experiments, sedimentary archives and Earth system models.

Topics to which we pay special attention are:

  • Water cycle: we study how climate change reshapes the terrestrial water, with a focus on changes in droughts and floods.
  • Permafrost and peatlands: we investigate the changing interactions between carbon storage and hydrology of permafrost and peatland landscapes.
  • Vegetation and soils: we study trees and forests, and their interactions with soils to understand their roles in the water and carbon cycles.
  • Fire: we study the role of fire in the carbon cycle and Earth system and fire’s interactions with climate, vegetation and society.
  • Greenhouse gases and aerosols: we assess and model past, present and future concentrations of various atmospheric particles and gases.
  • Ice sheets and ocean circulation: we study the past and future evolution of ice sheets and global ocean circulation on centennial to multi-millennial time scales.
  • Paleoclimate & paleontology: geochemical and isotopic analyses of sedimentary archives, biogenic carbonates, and vertebrate remains inform us about past, present and future climate changes at seasonal-to-millennial time scales.
  • Deep carbon cycle: we study the geochemical cycling of carbon and other elements through the Earth’s mantle and core.

The following research groups participate in the research theme 1:

  • Arctic hydrology and biogeochemistry (Dr. Jorien Vonk)
  • Atmospheric composition (Prof. Sander Houweling)
  • Biogeochemistry (Dr. Liam Heffernan)
  • Climate & ecosystems change (Dr. Sander Veraverbeke)
  • Climate modeling and marine geology (Prof. Didier Roche)
  • Hydrology (Dr. Ype van der Velde)
  • Petrology (Prof. Gareth Davies)
  • Planetary science (Prof. Wim van Westrenen)
  • Sedimentology & stratigraphy (Prof. Klaudia Kuiper)