Critical Zone Hydrology Group





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The Amsterdam Critical Zone Hydrology Group

The major environmental and sustainability issues facing planet Earth and Mankind today involve important linkages with subsurface and near-surface hydrological conditions and processes. The Earth's 'Critical Zone' (CZ) - the porous near-surface layer that extends from the top of the vegetative canopy down to the deepest groundwater - is a constantly evolving zone where rock, soil, water, air and living organisms all interact and regulate the flows of energy, water, carbon and nutrients, thereby sustaining the natural resources that Mankind depends upon. As a result of demographic and economic developments, pressures on the CZ are mounting in many parts of the world. Changes in land use, pollution, and climate change threaten the surface layer's productive capacity, groundwater resources, river flow regimes and water quality. In turn, these hydrological changes have an impact on critical processes operating within the near-surface environment. Thus, the most immediate challenge faced by CZ researchers is to develop a predictive understanding of how the function of the CZ will evolve and respond to changes in climate, land use, and aquifer use.

Mission statement: To enhance our understanding of hydrological and biogeochemical processes and conditions operating within the Earth's Critical Zone, and to understand how these are interlinked and integrated at the landscape scale, thereby contributing to the sustainable use and management of the world's ecosystems and freshwater resources.

Until its forced closure per 1 September 2015 the ACZHG strived to achieve these goals through its Critical Zone hydrology research programme, and by equipping new generations of hydrology students with the sound practical and theoretical knowledge base needed to address the current and future challenges through the Group's former input into the acclaimed masters programme in Hydrology (modified per 1 September 2015).


Until the forced closure of the Critical Zone Hydrology research line the research and teaching expertise of the ACZHG staff nearly covered the complete spectrum of surface and groundwater hydrology, ranging from hydrometeorology and ecohydrology, through hillslope and unsaturated zone hydrology, catchment response analysis, groundwater hydraulics, geophysics and hydrogeology, to hydrochemistry, contaminant hydrology and isotope hydrology. Both research and teaching conducted by the Group typically contained a strong field component, resulting in a unique combination of theoretical, field, and modelling expertise applied to Critical Zone issues in a wide range of environmental settings.


The Amsterdam Critical Zone Hydrology Group evolved from the former Department of Hydrology and Geo-Environmental Sciences upon the restructuring of the Institute of Earth Sciences its research themes. The ACZHG became embedded in the Dynamic Earth and Natural Resources Cluster within the Department of Earth Sciences of the Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences at the VU University (FALW-VUA) in January 2012. The group consisted of 10 scientific staff members (two of which seconded from Deltares), and was supported by two technical staff.

As part of the major Faculty reorganization in 2014/15 all former ACZHG staff had left FALW-VUA by 15 October 2015, having taken up employment elsewhere. AS SUCH, CRITICAL ZONE HYDROLOGY IS NOT PRACTICED AT THE VU UNIVERSITY AMSTERDAM ANYMORE. The move of Critical Zone Hydrology away from the university also also severely affects the quality of the MSc Hydrology Programme. The ACZH Group continues to remain in touch with one another and collaborate on several of the Group’s former research themes.

Contact information

Amsterdam Critical Zone Hydrology group members can be contacted through the contact information given on their respective personal pages.

Last modified: Tue Feb 2 08:16:18 CET 2016


4 March 2015
9:45 h - Aula, VU University
Stefanie Lutz will defend her PhD thesis titled "Isotopic Fingerprints of Organic Pollutants. Quantifying sources and sinks of organic pollutants with isotope analysis from aquifer to catchment scale".

27 March 2015
11:45 h - Aula
Zaman ZiabakhshGanji will defend his PhD thesis titled "Physical and geochemical impacts of impure CO2 on storage in depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs and saline aquifers".

29 April 2015
11:45 h - Aula
Andreas E. Antoniou will defend his PhD thesis.


Henk Kooi publishes a paper in Nature Geoscience about Groundwater flow as a cooling agent of the continental lithosphere.

Sampurno Bruijnzeel presented a lecture about Breakthroughs in Tropical landuse change impacts in the Distinguished Lecture series at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada in September 2014.

Read our 2013 ACZH group newsletter here.

Koos Groen and Henk Kooi publish in Nature on global offshore fresh groundwater reserves. Read more...

ACZHG associate Jaap Schellekens to coordinate 8.9 million Euro eartH2Observe project. Read more...

New Chandra Ghimire paper in Journal of Geophysical Research to be featured in AGU's Research Spotlight section of Eos. Read more...

New paper by Hylke Beck in Water Resources Research to be featured in AGU's Research Spotlight section of Eos. Read more...

The Global Streamflow Characteristics Dataset now available online.

Joint VU-ITC PhD student Chandra Ghimire received the ITC Research Award 2012 for best research paper. Read more...

Hylke Beck's PhD thesis Linkages between streamflow, climate & catchment characteristics: A global analysis now available online

New version of REACTIONS+ and Hydrogeochemcal software now available. Download here.

ACZHG participates in newly funded P4GES (Can Paying 4 Global Ecosystem Services values reduce poverty?) project

Maarten Waterloo elected best lecturer of the Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences. Read more (in Dutch)

Amsterdam Hydrology master programme rated the best within the Netherlands by international panel. Read more...

Film-maker John Dennis Liu joining as Visiting Fellow

Results VUA/UNIS-organized permafrost hydrology workshop in Svalbard now online