Twelve Earth observation and planet research projects receive funding

NSO has awarded funding to 12 new research proposals in the fields of Earth observation and planetary research. The researchers will receive funding from the User Support for Space Research programme carried out by NSO on behalf of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

Ten Earth observation projects are of scientific and societal interest in fields such as the climate and the environment and their impacts on society. Two planetary research projects help strengthen the Dutch contribution to international planetary research. A total of 30 proposals were submitted. With these 12 proposals, the call involves a total investment of about 2.8 million euros.



Toward a next generation instantaneous dynamics model of the crust-mantle system

Dr C. Thieulot (Utrecht University)

This project will produce an advanced 3D model of the Earth to a depth of almost 3,000 kilometres. For the first time, mechanical stresses and deformations in the crust, lithosphere and mantle will be simulated in a single, detailed model. Gravity observations from modern European satellites (GOCE) will play an important part in the model.


Saltmarshes under stress: thresholds for saltmarsh dynamics from global satellite data (MARSH)

Dr D. van der Wal (NIOZ)

Optical satellite data provides consistent global information for the study of saltmarshes and their lateral dynamics. By comparing saltmarsh formation and environmental factors, this project will identify the factors and conditions that affect saltmarsh formation.


ACEPOL: aerosol characterisation from polarimeter and lidar

Dr O. Hasekamp (SRON)

Aerosols reflect sunlight and affect cloud formation, and therefore affect the climate as well. To improve our understanding of the effect of aerosols on the climate, global measurements of aerosol properties are required. How much light do the particles absorb and reflect, and what are the microphysical properties, such as size distribution and refractive index? This project uses aircraft measurements of the polarisation of sunlight reflected by the Earth’s atmosphere to determine these important aerosol characteristics.


FRESCO-B: retrieval of scattering cloud parameters from the oxygen A and B bands

Dr P. Wang (KNMI)

The new Sentinel satellites will provide observations of the trace gases ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. These gases have an important effect on air quality and climate change. Accurate data is essential for producing long-term climate records, but clouds severely influence the accuracy of tropospheric trace gas observations. This project aims to improve the FRESCO algorithm to allow the better derivation of cloud parameters.


An interactive narrowband albedo model for the Greenland Ice Sheet

Dr W.J. van de Berg (Utrecht University)

This project aims to improve the description of albedo (reflection of sunlight from a surface) in regional climate models. This will allow better estimates to be made of future loss in mass of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The newly modelled spectral albedo will be evaluated using in situ spectral observations and satellite images.


Quantifying shallow and deep permafrost changes using radar remote sensing

Dr J. van Huissteden (VU Amsterdam)

This project aims to test and improve innovative applications of radar satellite images. This will make it easier to map permafrost thaw and methane hotspots in lakes.


Space-based assessment of ozone deposition and its impact on ecosystem functioning

Dr L. Ganzeveld (Wageningen UR)

As well as a direct effect, ozone also has an indirect effect as a greenhouse gas, because its uptake by plants reduces the uptake of CO2. This effect has only previously been investigated in laboratories and field studies. This project will demonstrate the effect using satellite data. An important part of the research involves separating the impact of ozone deposition from other impacts on vegetation development.


Nitrogen deposition and its effect on drought stress and carbon exchange

Prof. J.W. Erisman (VU Amsterdam)

Ammonia measurements made by IASI will be used as nitrogen fertilisation markers. Combined with satellite observations, this can provide information on the type and level of nitrogen input, nitrogen losses and deposition and the effect on drought stress and carbon exchange in terrestrial systems.


Multidisciplinary approach towards a better understanding of the seismic cycle using two decades of space geodetic data

Dr R.E.M. Riva (Delft University of Technology)

This project will combine space geodetic data with plate tectonic, land subsidence, change of sea level and natural disaster data and investigate their interactions. It is part of a larger study into the earthquake cycle in Southeast Asia.


Air pollutant emissions from agriculture optimised by Earth observations (AMARETTO)

Prof. W. de Vries (Wageningen UR)

This project will use satellite data to improve the quantification of both spatial and temporal variability in ammonia emissions and concentrations in Europe.




Development of integrated trace element and stable isotope fractionation during planetary core formation

Dr P.Z. Vroon (VU Amsterdam)

During the formation of the metal core in planets and moons, a new partitioning of major and trace elements and of stable isotopes (e.g. silicon and sulphur) forms between the liquid silicate mantle and the metallic core. In this study, the partitioning of stable isotopes and of the various major and trace elements will be measured under identical experimental conditions for the first time. This will allow researchers to improve models of planetary core formation of the various bodies in the solar system.


Effects of tidal-induced fluid dynamics for the moons of Jupiter and Saturn

Prof. L.L.A. Vermeersen (NIOZ)

There are strong indications that both the volcanic moon Io and icy moons harbour very large, global liquid layers beneath their surfaces. This proposal will apply detailed physical oceanography models to the global sub-surface of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn for the first time.