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Earth Sciences in Progress

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Displaying theses 1-10 of 244 total
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T.J. Grandjean
Master programme: Environmental Management October 30th, 2018
Institute: IBED Research group: Computational Geo-Ecology Graduation thesis Supervisor: Dr. K.F. Rijsdijk
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Predictive modelling of Posidonia oceanica to identify spatial distribution and vulnerability across the Mediterranean Sea
Posidonia oceanica meadows are among the most threatened coastal ecosystems, with a decline rate up to 6.9%. The ecosystem provides many ecosystem services for marine organisms, human and environmental application. Accurate mapping and monitoring in the Eastern Mediterranean continue to lag. A tool for mapping aims is species distribution models (SDMs) if there are sufficient qualitative training data and environmental datasets. Current models projected over past and future conditions, present the evolution of P. oceanica through time and environmental settings. In the entire Mediterranean Sea, meadows react to environmental and climate threats. Intensive regional monitoring becomes an impossible task, so remote sensing can be a new tool for ecologists and policymakers. For the first time, patchiness index and the apparent depth of meadows is assessed by remote sensing to define the anthropogenic and climate threats. This research presents data for the entire Mediterranean the distribution and vulnerability of P. oceanica meadows to show their correlation to climate, anthropogenic and unaffected environmental conditions on P. meadows.
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Scientific abstract (pdf 21K)     For more info or full text, mail to:

V. Viert
Master programme: Environmental Management September 23rd, 2018
Institute: UvA / Other Research group: UvA / Other Graduation thesis Supervisor: dhr. prof. dr. M.D. (Marc) Davidson
The influence of a privatized agricultural extension system on farmers’ acceptance of agri-environmental measures: A case study in north-east Brandenburg, Germany.
Great efforts have been made to reduce environmental impacts of agricultural practices all over the world. Environmental targets are set, programs with manifold agri-environmental measures are developed and policies and regulations are implemented. This research explores the influence of agricultural extension, information transfer and communication on farmers’ acceptance of agri- environmental measures (AEM) and their attitude towards the agricultural environment within the research area of north-east Brandenburg.
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Scientific abstract (pdf 3K)   Data file (pdf 7306K)   Full text (pdf 7306K)

D.J. Burger
Master programme: Geo-ecological Dynamics September 10th, 2018
Institute: IBED Research group: Earth Surface Science Graduation thesis Supervisor: Roland Bol
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The effects of high intensity precipitation and snowmelt events on the export of nitrogen and sulphur in stream water within the Wüstebach catchment
The Eifel National Park is a very popular national park for tourist from the German province North Rhine Westphalia, Belgium, and The Netherlands. Orginally, beech trees were growing on the hills in this area, but after the second world war, spruce trees have been planted for timber production. In 2013, the area around the Wüstebach stream has been deforested to regenerate the beech forest. The beech seedlings need many nutrients (for example Nitrogen (N) and Sulphur (S) compounds) to grow. Climate change causes more extreme events such as high intensity rainfall events, drought and heat and cold waves. The high intensity rainfall and snowmelt events after cold waves are causing a large export of N and S in stream water, which is a threat for the regenerating forest. In order to estimate how large the threat is, high resolution sampling is necessary. In this study one spring storm and one snowmelt event have been sampled on high resolution and were compared to 5 selected events from a storm database. It was found that snowmelt events are more severe than storms, as the concentration N and S is higher in stream water in winter and the events are of longer duration.
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Scientific abstract (pdf 2K)     For more info or full text, mail to:

S.B. Mooijman
Master programme: Environmental Management August 28th, 2018
Institute: IBED Research group: Ecosystem & Landscape Dynamics Graduation thesis Supervisor: William Gosling
Between the tropical Andes and the Amazon Characterizing phytolith assemblages over environmental gradients
Phytolith application in paleovegetation reconstructions has increased since the last change of century. Paleovegetation reconstructions provide information about response and resilience of vegetation on environmental changes, including climate change and human impact. Andean-Amazonian environmental gradients provide opportunities to relate phytolith assemblages to plant taxa. In this research, phytoliths from Ecuador’s Andean- Amazonian forests were counted and related to plant taxa. To find controls of forest structure and functioning, taxonomic variance was related to gradients of climate, land use and human disturbance using Canonical Correspondence Analysis and Pearson’s correlations. Stronger human disturbance affected taxonomic composition most, but taxa remained relatively resilient to moderate human disturbance, potentially informing environmental management strategies. Temperature related gradients also strongly affected taxonomic composition. Impact of precipitation related gradients was low, possibly a result of limited reliability of the precipitation data. Palm taxa thrived at warmer low elevations. Grass taxa thrived at cooler higher elevations. No increase of arboreal taxa was found above 1200 meter, although expected as a result of increased moisture availability due to permanent montane cloud formation. Near local roads more agricultural phytoliths were found, reflecting their use by local farmers. Phytolith analysis reflected existing knowledge, emphasizing potential as a paleo proxy.
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Scientific abstract (pdf 2K)   Data file (pdf 142K)   Full text (pdf 4101K)

H.H.C. Versteegh
Master programme: Environmental Management August 13th, 2018
Institute: IBED Research group: anders Graduation thesis Supervisor: dr. A.C. Seijmonsbergen
Quantification and analyses of global scale terrestrial geodiversity
Geodiversity can be defined as the natural range (diversity) of geological (rocks, minerals, fossils), geomorphological (land form, processes) and soil features. Until now, geodiversity has not been quantified on a global scale. However, a global geodiversity quantification can help to preserve nature and contribute to science. Freely available global datasets of hydrology (shores, lakes, rivers), soils, rock types and slope angles are used to quantify geodiversity within a grid. A global geodiversity index map is created that indicates the geodiversity within the grid cells, using five classes: very low, low, moderate, high and very high. This research indicated that the slope angles have the largest influence on the geodiversity, while the hydrological datasets have the smallest influence. Africa is the continent with the lowest geodiversity and Oceania has the highest geodiversity. Higher geodiversity classes dominate higher elevations. The global geodiversity index shows potential for nature conservation and global-scale monitoring. Therefore the used variables are proposed as global Essential Geodiversity Variables: carefully selected indicators that can be used to observe or monitor geodiversity.
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Scientific abstract (pdf 1K)     For more info or full text, mail to:

W.L. Gravemaker
Master programme: Environmental Management August 9th, 2018
Institute: IBED Research group: Ecosystem & Landscape Dynamics Graduation thesis Supervisor: L.H. Cammeraat
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Soil inorganic carbon storage and accumulation in southeast Spain under a chronosequence of land abandonment
Soil inorganic carbon (SIC) is of global importance to soil fertility and the long term carbon cycle. Until now, SIC research has focused on Loess soils of China, therefore little is known about soil inorganic carbon on the stony soils of southeast Spain. The current state of knowledge on SIC has been investigated, followed by a field research which tells us how much SIC is stored in the fieldwork area and how SIC storage is influenced by land management, or the absence of land management. This is the first time that the amount of soil inorganic carbon has been estimated in soils with a high rock fraction in this area. Multiple statistical methods were combined to confirm that soils do accumulate a significant amount of inorganic carbon after land abandonment by farmers, and the accumulation rate has been estimated. A model is proposed which addresses the most important factors for SIC accumulation, based on this field research and on theoretical knowledge.
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Scientific abstract (pdf 4K)     For more info or full text, mail to:

J. Yang
Master programme: Environmental Management July 30th, 2018
Institute: IBED Research group: Computational Geo-Ecology Graduation thesis Supervisor: Emiel van Loon
Trap efficiency in muskrat control, based on field data from Flevoland, the Netherlands
Muskrat is considered an invasive species in the Netherlands. A year-round control program has been carried out for years. Yet the efficiency of traps has not been investigated sufficiently in detail. The study aims to compare the working efficiency between different trap types currently used in Flevoland, Netherlands. Three criteria are used namely catch efficiency, cost efficiency and target specificity. The comparison was done by analyzing field data, sending out questionnaire to professional trappers and a small scale field experiment.
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Scientific abstract (pdf 5K)   Data file (zip 7751K)   Full text (pdf 2887K)

B.R.N. Sweerts
Master programme: Geo-ecological Dynamics July 3rd, 2018
Institute: Other Research group: Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Graduation thesis Supervisor: Bob van der Zwaan
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The long-term impact of aerosol emissions on photovoltaic power generation in China
China is the largest manufacturer and consumer of solar photovoltaic energy in the world. The amount of electricity generation with PV panels depends directly on the ultimate source of energy of our planet: the sun. Before sunlight reaches the surface and hits the PV panels, it must travel through the atmosphere. Here, clouds as well as aerosols absorb and scatter incoming radiation. Increases in anthropogenic aerosol emissions in China have substantially reduced the amount of sunlight that reaches the surface. We use measured sunlight data to show that this has resulted in an estimated 11-13% reduction in photovoltaic energy generation across China. However, stringent and successful air pollution control measures may reverse this trend - with with tens of terra-watt hours of electricity and billions of dollars of economic benefit as the result.
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Scientific abstract (pdf 1K)     For more info or full text, mail to:

C.C.M. Vredevoort
Master programme: Environmental Management June 23rd, 2018
Institute: IBED Research group: Paleo-ecology and Landscape Ecology Graduation thesis Supervisor: John van Boxel
Precipitation patterns under climate change: Constructing statistical precipitation models using historical European persistence trends.
During this research historical precipitation patterns in Europe were analyzed by looking at annual trends in consecutive days of rainfall and dryness. Linear trends in persistence were derived from precipitation datasets provided by the European Climate Assessment & Database project. Furthermore, trends in occurrence of intense rainfall periods and prolonged dry and wet spells were calculated to identify precipitation extremes. Transition probabilities between dry, light, medium and heavy rainfall days were assessed for calibrating Markov transition matrices. The first order Markov models generally generated realistic precipitation statistics but failed to simulate long dry and wet spells. The model output displayed high agreement with historical observations and was subsequently extrapolated to project future precipitation statistics. Some historical datasets lacked reliable precipitation measurements, resulting in unrealistic future precipitation projections. Model improvements are required to simulate precipitation more accurately. Markov models can eventually be used as a relatively simple tool to generate fairly accurate precipitation statistics based on meteorological persistence. These statistics can be used for impact assessments under climate change.
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Scientific abstract (pdf 2K)   Data file (docx 213K)   Full text (docx 10092K)

C.L. Thomas
Master programme: Geo-ecological Dynamics June 20th, 2018
Institute: IBED Research group: Ecosystem & Landscape Dynamics Graduation thesis Supervisor: Boris Jansen
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Soil Legacies: Using lipid biomarkers to verify illicit whisky distilling sites on the isle of Arran, Scotland
For this thesis, soil samples were taken from two areas on the isle of Arran in Scotland that were identified as potential illicit distillation sites. Additionally, samples from the various steps of the whisky distillation process were obtained from the Isle of Arran distillery. Lipids extracted from the soil samples were compared to lipids found in the whisky samples. The goal of the research was to determine whether this method could be used to provide evidence of past illicit distillation at the sampled sites. It was determined that straight-chain lipids were present in the whisky samples and were well-preserved in the soil. In addition, based on the analysis, at least one of the sites was likely used for illicit distillation.
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Scientific abstract (pdf 3K)     For more info or full text, mail to:

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