Newsletter No. 1 • June 2016

Amsterdam Water Science launched

Amsterdam Water Science is a new water research collaboration between VU Amsterdam and University of Amsterdam. Amsterdam Water Science is a unique programme focusing on water sciences in the Netherlands. It is an interdisciplinary programme on the biological, chemical and physical processes in water systems (marine life, water quality, flooding and droughts) and societal aspects of water management (economics, governance, legislation). One of the topics of interest in this research programme is how extremes influence society and what measures government and the private sector can take in order to manage the quality of water, flood risks and water shortages.

The main research partners are VU University Amsterdam (Institute for Environmental Studies, IVM and Earth Sciences) and the University of Amsterdam (Faculty of Science, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics). They have jointly decided to develop a coherent research and degree programme on Water Science, in collaboration with research institutions, government agencies and businesses in the Amsterdam area.

The programme combines natural sciences such as aquatic ecology, oceanography, ecohydrology and meteorology with social sciences such as water economics and water governance. Research currently takes place across a wide range of international research projects in collaboration with leading universities in Europe, USA, Asia and Australia, and is funded through 14 major research grants (ERC and NWO Vici, Vidi & Veni).

Amsterdam as testing ground for research and education

Amsterdam Water Science's philosophy is to interweave research projects with degree programmes and to initiate research together with stakeholders in the Amsterdam region. The city of Amsterdam and its water-rich surrounding areas will serve as a testing ground for research and education. Therefore, AWS recently funded a number of 7 pilot projects in which students, IVM researchers and stakeholders are actively involved and work together. Pilot projects where IVM is involved are: “Peat meadow restoration through sustainable business development and integrated urban-rural systems” and “Flood risk management and infrastructure in the Port of Amsterdam”.

A New MSc Hydrology

IVM also coordinates the new MSc Hydrology, together with the Institute of Earth Sciences.

The MSc program aims at educating students to understand the complex interactions between hydrological processes and the relation with society, and how this may change under future global change. Measuring hydrology and Interdisciplinarity is key in the program, which links hydrology to various natural sciences (geology, chemistry, environmental studies) as well as social sciences (economics and governance). This allows the development of an integrated view of complex natural systems within which our society operates. Important topics are:

  • How does the hydrological system function and how does it relate with climate, vegetation and society?
  • How can we ensure there is enough water available for every person?
  • Can we ensure water quality for agriculture, biodiversity and drinking water?
  • How can we minimize the impact of extreme flood events in dense urban areas?

 Pict AWS

Two permanent field sites: Kenya and Luxembourg

Our permanent field site in Kenya is coordinated by Dr. Ralph Lasage and the University of Kitui, Kenya. This is an arid area, at an altitude of 1000-2000m, with frequent water shortages. The focus is on measuring water storage underground in natural and artificial aquifers, but also on assessing the impacts of water management and shortages on the society and economy through surveys. The field site in Luxembourg is coordinated by Dr. Martijn Westhoff and Dr. Sija Stofberg. This field site is used by students to set up measurements for assessing changes in the main component of the water cycle (infiltration, evaporation, runoff, etc).

More info: Dr Hans de Moel, MSc coordinator.

Author: Jeroen Aerts