Meet Maarten and his project

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Global modelling of vegetation dynamics and feedbacks: linking carbon, water and nitrogen

Because nitrogen (N) is a fundamental component of living organisms, its biogeochemical cycle is strongly linked to that of carbon (C). Currently, most natural ecosystems are limited by availability of N, which poses constraints on vegetation productivity. Therefore, C-N coupling in terrestrial ecosystems needs to be explicitly considered in models in order to correctly predict uptake of carbon by the land surface. Human activities such as fertilizer application and fossil fuel emissions have led to a strong increase of the availability of reactive nitrogen. While stimulating terrestrial productivity, this has caused increased input of N into ground and surface water by leaching and surface runoff, resulting in a range of negative impacts on the environment and human health.

Nitrogen fluxes from terrestrial ecosystems to surface water (Bouwman et al., Phil Trans R Soc B, 2013).

Nitrogen fluxes from terrestrial ecosystems to surface water (Bouwman et al., Phil Trans R Soc B, 2013).

For the WCE project I am developing a global dynamic modelling system that integrates representations of N cycling in vegetation and soil, and N delivery to ground and surface water. This will be achieved by coupling the dynamic global vegetation model LPJ-GUESS, which includes representations of N cycling, as well as croplands and pasture, to the global water balance model PCR-GLOBWB, which simulates surface runoff, interflow, groundwater recharge, and baseflow. The coupled model will be used to asses global N fluxes both current and in the past, as well as for various future scenarios.

About Maarten

Maarten obtained his MSc degree at Wageningen University where he studied soil-water-atmosphere, with focus on modelling soil processes. After this he moved to the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, where he worked for 7 years, mainly on modelling soil organic carbon dynamics. It was there where Maarten completed his PhD project, which he defended at Wageningen University early 2014. Since August 2014 he is working at the Environmental Sciences group of the Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development of Utrecht University for the WCE project.

His expertise lies mainly with developing dynamic and mechanistic models of biogeochemical and transport processes in soil and vegetation. He’s particularly interested in mathematical techniques to combine such models with observations in order improve, calibrate, and evaluate them. More recently he also became interested in more data driven modelling approaches, such as neural networks, and how these can be used to complement process models.

Contact Maarten