Meet Rianne and her project

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Global modelling of glaciers and their impact on downstream water availability

Studies of the global glacier contribution to sea-level rise assume that glacier melt water directly ends up in the world’s oceans. They do not account for any delay in the transfer of melt water from the glaciated mountains to the ocean. Global hydrological models consider terrestrial freshwater in detail to assess water availability but generally simulate glacier processes in a simple way. The aim of this project is to improve the representation of glaciers in the global hydrological model PCR-GLOBWB. This will be done by implementing less simplified expressions for the processes determining the energy and mass exchange between the atmosphere and the glacier surface in PCR-GLOBWB. In addition, the dynamic response of glaciers to climatic changes will be included, which is not yet common practice in global glacier studies. Once built into PCR-GLOBWB and validated against globally observed mass balances and velocities, the combined model will be used to simulate changes in glacier volume over the period 1850-2100 and to analyse the consequences for downstream water availability. Other subprojects will also provide additional functionalities to PCR-GLOBWB (e.g. human impacts on the water system, biogeochemical cycles). The effects of these processes on the hydrological cycle will first be assessed individually, after which feedbacks in the system will be studied with a fully integrated version of PCR-GLOBWB.

About Rianne
rianneI have always been interested in nature, especially in the natural forces that move the solid earth, water and air. I therefore chose to study Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at Utrecht University. During my studies, I developed a particular interest in glaciers and their interaction with the atmosphere. Both my MSc thesis project and my PhD project at Utrecht University focussed on the response of the ice cap Hardangerjøkulen in southern Norway to climatic changes. I did fieldwork on this ice cap several times in winter and summer to collect data for the model calibration, which was a great experience. I obtained my PhD degree in 2009, after which I started as a postdoc in the EU-funded ice2sea project. In this project, researchers at many European institutes worked together to obtain a new estimate for the future contribution of continental ice to sea-level rise. Within ice2sea, I was involved in determining the future global volume change of glaciers (as opposed to the ice sheets). Several aspects of this global approach remain to be refined, which will be my focus in the coming years. When I am not working, I enjoy outdoor activities like cycling and gardening and indoor activities such as baking and handcrafting.

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