The Master’s program in Earth Surface and Water involves the study of natural and human-induced physical and geochemical processes, patterns, and dynamics of the Earth’s continental and coastal systems. This two-year program provides you with the knowledge that is essential to manage the planet sustainably, guarantee the availability of natural resources for future generations, and understand and avert natural hazards.
The main subject areas you will study consist of the dynamics of coastal and river systems, (geo-)hydrological processes, groundwater remediation, land degradation in drylands and mountainous regions, natural hazards, and delta evolution on centennial and longer timescales.
You can choose one of four tracks based on your interests in the field:
- Geohazards and Earth Observation
Land-degradation processes and natural hazards in and on the Earth's surface
- Coastal Dynamics and Fluvial Systems
Natural and human-induced processes, patterns, and products in the world's coasts and rivers
Movement, distribution, and quality of water on Earth
- Environmental Geochemistry
Processes that control the functioning of natural environments at the Earth's surface
Core Areas of Research
The Earth Surface and Water program trains students to quantitatively study the natural and human-induced physical and chemical processes, patterns, and dynamics of Earth’s continental and coastal systems as well as their responses to global change. Students explore and understand the modeling capabilities of the past, present, and future as well as the evolution of Earth’s environment, including human impact on this evolution.
In the program, you will address questions such as:
- How do river floods affect delta systems and their inhabitants?
- How can we use natural processes under climate change to maintain safe - yet attractive and dynamic - coastlines?
- How can satellite images be used to estimate erosion losses?
- Will we have enough water to sustain the world’s rapidly increasing population in 2050?
- What is the most efficient way to clean an oil spill that enters the soil and groundwater?
The program trains students to combine field observations and laboratory experiments with the latest developments in remote sensing and computational methods. Research developed by our staff and students has a strong international profile, encompasses scales ranging from microscopic to global, and concerns both past and contemporary processes.
Physical geographers, geochemists, and hydrologists are necessary to identify nature’s actions in our modern world, especially with society’s ever-increasing pressure on the natural environment. The Earth Surface and Water program, therefore, focusses on imminent societal problems, such as society’s increased vulnerability to climate and environmental changes and to natural hazards such as flooding, storms, and mass movements. It also addresses the threats and opportunities resulting from human activity in our physical environment, including the hydrological cycle.