No. 3 • November 2018


Selected research highlights

Energy literacyImproving energy efficiency is widely recognized as one of the best ways to reduce energy consumption and the associated CO2 emissions. Nevertheless, inefficient energy use persists in several sectors, including households. Recent publications by IVM’s Julia Blasch and Swiss co-authors show that improvements in households’ ‘energy literacy’ and ‘investment literacy’ lead to more energy efficiency. Education and decision support tools can enhance this literacy.

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Blue-green roofsIVM takes part in an Amsterdam consortium that will receive 4.8 million Euro for the project RESILIO to lay out blue-green roofs in four city districts. The water carrying roofs are meant as a measure for climate adaptation and improvement of the biodiversity. By using sensors the roofs are smart and make micro-water management possible.
The blue-green roofs have the advantage over ordinary green roofs that they can absorb and store much more water while the plants continue to evaporate during heat and drought. As a result it stays cooler in the homes and neighbourhood and the houses and their surroundings are thus better protected against heavy rain, drought and heat. Also a wider variety of plants can be grown on these roofs which in turn increases the biodiversity. The roofs will be linked in a network regulating the water level on the basis of the weather forecast. When intense precipitation is expected, the storage is emptied beforehand so that the peak flow from roofs is reduced, limiting the discharge to the sewerage. The coming three years the smart blue-green roofs will be laid on 10,000 m2 roof of social housing buildings on four locations in Amsterdam. Two IVM sections are involved in this project: Water and Climate Risk (WCR) and Environmental Policy Analysis (EPA).

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Food Energy Water nexusIVM’s Jampel Dell’Angelo and Paolo D’Odorico (ESPM – UC Berkeley) received a Pursuit Grant from the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) under funding received from the National Science Foundation on the ‘Food-Energy-Water Interdependencies of the Global Agrarian Transition’. The project will last two years and involve a team of 26 researchers and practitioners from all over the world. The aim of this project is to assess the relationship between large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) and the Food-Energy-Water (FEW) nexus considering not only the agricultural elements of this transformation, but also the impacts on land cover, water and energy demand, on ecosystems, and the effects on the socio-economic, cultural and institutional conditions of the affected populations. LSLAs present some unique challenges to FEW systems’ sustainability. Solutions promoting sustainable development will be identified and discussed once the complex interdependencies between the food-water and energy systems are detected and analysed. 

A recent review article, to which Dell’Angelo and D’Odorico also contributed,  explores multiple components of the FEW nexus and highlights possible approaches that could be used to meet food and energy security with the limited renewable water resources of the planet.

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Forest managementNot every forest is alike. Species selection and harvest regime are substantially impacting a forest’s ability to provide ecosystem services, such as climate change mitigation, biodiversity protection or scenic beauty. Knowing how we use and manage forests is therefore of highest importance, when studying future environmental change. Often, forest management it is not considered in global land use, climate and biodiversity models, due to the lack of consistent global data. A new study by Katharina Schulze, Žiga Malek and Peter Verburg from the IVM Environmental Geography department presents first data on global forest management patterns. The study provides the first systematic approach of downscaling statistics from the FAO Forest Resource Assessment on forest classes and forest uses and identifies which location factors influence the occurrence of forest management types. Katharina and colleagues demonstrate the diversity in forest type, naturalness and intensity of management worldwide, which will undoubtedly improve the way how forests are included in global models. The maps are freely available on and will hopefully facilitate future research on land use, climate change and biodiversity, as they enable to consider the different nuances of the world’s forests.

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Education news

Rachel Carson prize
Jury chairman Leendert van Bree presents the Rachel Carson prize to Mieke Westerhaus
Mieke Westerhaus, ERM student in the course 2017-2018, won the prestigious Rachel Carson Graduation Prize 2018 of the Dutch Network of Environmental Professional (VVM). Her MSc thesis, ‘The Role of Water in Migration: Qualitative and Quantitative Evidence from Africa and the Middle East’, co-supervised by Drs Jampel Dell’Angelo and Paolo Scussolini has been recognized for its great scientific quality, societal relevance and applicability by a jury of 8 distinguished members from science, education and practice in the environmental arena. Mieke’s thesis is very original. While it would seem easy to believe that the relationship between water scarcity and migration is a well understood and studied phenomenon in the scientific arena, it is not. There has been interesting research on the relationship between migration and climate change, in particular on droughts, crops failures and decision to migrate. However, a systematic characterization of the relationship between hydrological conditions (both economic and physical water scarcity) and migratory patterns has not been produced yet. Mieke mixed social and natural science approaches, employing both qualitative and quantitative methods. She conducted a systematic literature review, employed a case study approach, and statistical analyses of large datasets. All the different approaches were very originally combined to extract useful information and support her analysis. Mieke is one of the 72 students who successfully completed the ERM course in the 2017-2018 academic year, and one of the 22 who did so with the result ‘cum laude’. 

Featured recent publications

Aalbers, E.E., Lenderink, G., van Meijgaard, E. & van den Hurk , B.J.J.M. (2018). Local-scale changes in mean and heavy precipitation in Western Europe, climate change or internal variability?Climate Dynamics, 50(11-12), 4745–4766. 

Aerts, J.C.J.H., Barnard, P.L., Botzen, W., Grifman, P., Hart, J.F., de Moel, H., Newton Mann, A., de Ruig, L.T. & Sadrpour, N. (2018). Pathways to resilience: adapting to sea level rise in Los Angeles. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1427(1). 1–90. 

Baldwin, E., McCord, P., Dell'Angelo, J. & Evans, T. (2018). Collective action in a polycentric water  governance system. Environmental Policy and Governance, 28(4). 212-222. 

Bernhofen, M.V., Whyman, C., Trigg, M.A., Sleigh, P.A., Smith, A.M., Sampson, C.C., Yamazaki, D., Ward, P.J., Rudari, R., Pappenberger, F., Dottori, F., Salamon, P. & Winsemius, H.C. (2018). A first collective validation of global fluvial flood models for major floods in Nigeria and Mozambique. Environmental Research Letters, 13(10). 

Brouwer, S. & Huitema, D. (2018). Policy entrepreneurs and strategies for change. Regional Environmental Change, 18(5), 1259–1272. 

Bryant, B.P., Borsuk, M.E., Hamel, P., Olesond, K.L.L., Schulp, C.J.E. & Willcock, S. (2018). Transparent and feasible uncertainty assessment adds value to applied ecosystem services modelling. Ecosystem Services, 33, Part B, 103–109. 

Coumou, D., Di Capua, G., Vavrus, S., Wang, L. & Wang, S. (2018). The influence of Arctic amplification on mid-latitude summer circulation. Nature Communications, 9, 2959. 

Debonne, N., van Vliet, J., Heinimann, A. & Verburg, P. (2018). Representing large-scale land acquisitions in land use change scenarios for the Lao PDR. Regional Environmental Change, 18(6), 1857–1869. 

Dell’Angelo, J., D’Odorico, P. & Rulli, M.C. (2018). The neglected costs of water peace. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water, 5(6), e1316. 

D’Odorico, P., Davis, K.F., Rosa, L., Carr, J.A., Chiarelli, D., Dell’Angelo, J., Gephart, J., MacDonald, G.K., Seekell, D.A., Suweis, S. & Rulli, M.C. (2018). The Global Food‐Energy‐Water Nexus. Reviews of Geophysics, 56(3), 456–531. 

Fang, Y., Du, S., Scussolini, P., Wen, J., He, C., Huang, Q. & Gao, J. (2018). Rapid Population Growth in Chinese Floodplains from 1990 to 2015. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(8), 1602. 

Gevaert, A.I., Renzullo, L.J., van Dijk, A.I.J.M., van der Woerd, H.J., Weerts, A.H. & de Jeu, R.A.M. (2018). Joint assimilation of soil moisture retrieved from multiple passive microwave frequencies increases robustness of soil moisture state estimation. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 22, 4605–4619. 

Gevaert, A.I., Veldkamp, T.I.E. & Ward, P.J. (2018). The effect of climate type on timescales of drought propagation in an ensemble of global hydrological models. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 22, 4649–4665. 

Gründemann, G.J., Werner, M. & Veldkamp, T.I. E. (2018). The potential of global reanalysis datasets in identifying flood events in Southern Africa. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 22, 4667–4683. 

Lehmann, M.K., Nguyen, U., Allan, M. & van der Woerd, H.J. (2018). Colour classification of 1486 lakes across a wide range of optical water types. Remote Sensing, 10(8), 1273. 

Manola, I., van den Hurk, B., de Moel, H. & Aerts, J.C.J.H. (2018). Future extreme precipitation intensities based on a historic event. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 22, 3777–3788. 

McFadgen, B. &Huitema, D. (2018). Experimentation at the interface of science and policy: a multi-case analysis of how policy experiments influence political decision-makers. Policy Sciences, 51(2), 161–187. 

Muis, S., Haigh, I.D., Guimarães Nobre, G., Aerts, J.C.J.H. & Ward, P.J. (2018). Influence of El Niño‐Southern Oscillation on global coastal flooding. Earth’s Future, 6(9), 1311–1322. 

Oleson, K., Grafeld, S., van de Beukering, P. & Brander, L. (2018). Charting progress towards system-scale ecosystem service valuation in islands. Environmental Conservation, 45(3), 212–226. 

Petoukhov, V., Petri, S., Kornhuber, K., Thonicke, K., Coumou, D. & Schellnhuber, H.J. (2018). Alberta wildfire 2016: Apt contribution from anomalous planetary wave dynamics. Scientific Reports, 8, 12375. 

Pulver, S., Ulibarri, N., Sobocinski, K.L., Alexander, S.M., Johnson, M.L., McCord, P.F. & Dell’Angelo, J. (2018). Frontiers in socio-environmental research: components, connections, scale, and context. Ecology and Society, 23(3), 23. 

Tieskens, K.F., van Zanten, B.T., Schulp, C.J.E. & Verburg, P.H. (2018). Aesthetic appreciation of the cultural landscape through social media: An analysis of revealed preference in the Dutch river landscape. Landscape and Urban Planning, 177, 128–137. 

van der Zanden, E.H., Carvalho-Ribeiro, S.M. & Verburg, P.H. (2018). Abandonment landscapes: user attitudes, alternative futures and land management in Castro Laboreiro, Portugal. Regional Environmental Change, 18(5), 1509–1520. 

Ward, P.J., Couasnon, A., Eilander, D., Haigh, I.D., Hendry, A., Muis, S., Veldkamp, T.I.E., Winsemius, H.C. & Wahl, T. (2018). Dependence between high sea-level and high river discharge increases flood hazard in global deltas and estuaries. Environmental Research Letters, 13(8). 

Wolff, S., Schrammeijer, E.A., Schulp, C.J.E. & Verburg, P.H. (2018). Meeting global land restoration and protection targets: What would the world look like in 2050?  GlobalEnvironmental Change, 52, 259–272.

Hickmann, Th., Partzsch, L., Pattberg, Ph. & Weiland, S. (eds) (2018). The Anthropocene Debate and Political Science. Routledge. 

Hsu, A.; Widerberg, O.; Weinfurter, A.; Chan, S.; Roelfsema, M.; Lütkehermöller, K. & Bakhtiari, F. (2018). Bridging the emissions gap – The role of non-state and subnational actors. Pre-release of a chapter in: In The Emissions Gap Report 2018. A UN Environment Synthesis Report. United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi. 

van den Bergh, J.C.J.M. (2018). Human Evolution beyond Biology and Culture. Evolutionary Social, Environmental and Policy Sciences. Cambridge University Press.

IVM in the spotlight

Dim Coumou and co-authors received a lot of national and international media attention for their publication in Nature Communications on changes in the Arctic on summer weather in the mid-latitudes (see under ‘Selected journal articles’). The publication coincided with persistent hot summer weather in large parts of Europe. Media coverage included among others De Volkskrant, the Berliner Zeitung and The Guardian.

Staff and organisation news

After 15 years working as a secretary and general support staff member at IVM, Corry Zoll has retired as of 1 September. Her successor is Angeline Stelling. Before joining IVM, Angeline has worked for 13 years at the University of Queensland, Australia. At IVM she has the function of secretary and office manager.
Katarzyna Negacz is a new junior researcher in EPA, working on the international biodiversity governance project. Rosa Pols joined IVM as a junior teacher.

Shutong He is a new PhD student in the IVM department of Environmental Economics (EE). In her PhD project, she will use the insights from behavioural economics and environmental psychology to investigate how non-price measures can contribute to higher levels of energy-efficiency investment and energy conservation behaviour of urban households in China. Linh Nguyen also joined IVM as a PhD student in the Environmental Economics Department. Within the CLAIM research project she will develop an economic model that provides financial incentives for fishermen to collect litter. 

Job Dullaart started as a PhD student for the Water and Climate Risk dept. Sarah Kew and Sjoukje Philip also joined this dept.

James Patterson left IVM and started as an Assistant Professor at the Copernicus Institute, Utrecht University. Andres Diaz Loaiza also exited IVM.

Stephan Slingerland has started as a 1-year guest researcher at the IVM Department of Environmental Policy Analysis (EPA). Stephan’s research interest is the geopolitics of energy transition and of sustainability transitions in general. Other guest researchers we have recently welcomed are Yuan Wang, Marta Bonato (Environmental Geography), Erdoğan Atmiş (EPA) and Julie Skrydstrup (W&CR).

Prizes, awards and grants

Gabriela Guimaraes Nobre received the European Geosciences Union (EGU)’s Outstanding Student Poster and PICO (OSPP) Award. Her PICO evaluates the potential cost-effectiveness of cash transfer responses, comparing the relative costs of cash transfers before (ex-ante) and after (ex-post) drought events in five districts in Kenya.

Philip Ward is the winner of the EGU’s Plinius Medal 2018. The medal is awarded annually to an outstanding active scientist involved in  interdisciplinary research in natural hazards.

Piero Morseletto won the Oran R. Young Prize for the best early-career paper of the Earth System Governance 2018 Utrecht Conference. The title of his paper is ‘Confronting the nitrogen challenge: options for governance and targets’.

Three IVM researchers (Astrid van Teeffelen, Peter Verburg and Pieter van Beukering) have been granted a subsidy of EUR 200,000 each for research proposals in the area of biodiversity scenarios. The three IVM proposals were selected under the EU’s ERA-LEARN BiodivScen network. ‘ENVISION’ will aim at an approach to assess integrative scenarios and visions for the management of protected areas. ’FutureWeb’ will address the challenges from changes in climate and land use for the structure and functioning of food webs of vertebrates in Europe. ‘REEF-FUTURES’ will develop future visions of coastal reef ecosystem services in the Anthropocene.

Upcoming events

21 November 2018: PhD defence Yus Budiyono. Thesis title: ‘Flood risk modeling in Jakarta: development and usefulness in a time of climate change’.

4 December 2018: PhD defence Sanne Muis. Thesis title: ‘Assessing coastal flood risk at the global scale’.

17 December 2018: PhD defence Belinda McFadgen. Thesis title: ‘Opening the black box of policy experimentation: How the governance of policy experiments affects learning outcomes for climate adaptation’. 

10 January 2019: PhD defence Solomon Tarfasa. Thesis title: ‘Using discrete choice experiments to inform environmental policy in a developing country context: case studies from Ethiopia’.

21 January 2019: PhD defence Koen Tieskens. Thesis title: ‘Cultural value of European landscapes: A quantitative approach’.

23 January 2019: PhD defence Samantha Scholte. Thesis title: ‘The value of nature through an ecosystem service lens: Exploring public perceptions’.