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I seek to identify, investigate and understand the consequences of human activities on the environment, especially on air quality and global climate change. I believe sound science can make a difference in the complex, but necessary, transition to a sustainable society. My main research area is anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants that change the atmospheric composition thus causing climate change and adverse health impacts. Accurate emissions data are essential input to air quality and climate models, to identify feasible controls that reduce adverse impacts associated with air quality and climate, to track the success of implemented policies, and to estimate future impacts. My focus for climate change is on methane and carbon dioxide, especially the innovative use of satellite data, while for air quality I focus on particulate matter emissions. These are transboundary environmental problems that cannot be solved by individual countries. Where possible I promote and strengthen European and global cooperation in European research projects and as a steering committee member of the Global Emissions InitiAtive (GEIA).
I coordinate the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service emissions project and lead emissions work packages in many European research projects. We deliver gridded high resolution emissions data to all air quality modelling teams in Europe. The developed “bottom-up” emission expertise is combined and verified with new earth observation data. In the NWO funded Gas leaks from Space (GALES) project jointly with SRON and VU we quantified anomalous methane emissions from oil and gas blowouts (in the US) or coal mines in Australia using TROPOMI methane data to show where large mitigations of this powerful greenhouse gas can be efficiently realized. Measurement-based greenhouse gas emission estimates will play a key role in the Paris agreement. My work and team play an important role in the preparation for the foreseen satellite-based European CO2 monitoring and verification support capacity (CO2 MVS), including an advisory role in the European Commission’s CO2 Taskforce. In-situ monitoring, especially in urbanized regions needs to be further developed and I coordinate the observation-based GHG monitoring around Rotterdam as part of the NOW funded Ruisdael observatory where we now have three stations operational.
A compelling result from my particulate matter research in concert with several European colleagues is the gradual European-wide acceptance of residential wood burning as a prime source of particulate matter emissions. Since 2015, many countries have adjusted their emission estimation methodology based on our results, including the Netherlands. To achieve such an impact, a constant dialogue and contribution to policy supporting bodies like EMEP (European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme) are extremely important.