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Introduction: Avelon Gerritsma

Posted at 25/06/2021 by Avelon Gerritsma

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Avelon Gerritsma


Hi! My name is Avelon Gerritsma and I work on work package 9.2 in the SALTISolutions project. In August 2021, I started with my PhD at TU Delft. I graduated from Wageningen University & Research with a MSc in Earth and Environment (specialization Hydrology and Water resources). During my studies, I enjoyed learning about the physics behind processes on Earth, like the formation of rain clouds or the dynamics of a meandering river. I find estuarine systems very interesting, as the combination of river and ocean dynamics makes it a complex system with many interacting processes to study. For my MSc thesis, I looked at the use of super-resolution neural networks (AI) to downscale precipitation data. I wrote my MSc thesis at Deltares, where I learned a lot about processing big datasets and deep learning.  After my MSc thesis, I continued working at Deltares for my internship.

I learned about the SALTISolutions project during my internship at Deltares. The goal of my internship was to study the effect of climate change on salt intrusion in estuaries around the world, using global datasets, parameterizations and analytical models. The problem of salt intrusion has many aspects (physics, numerical modelling, big data, economic, environment). SALTISolutions covers all these aspects and is therefore a really cool research project, I am glad to be part of the team!

My PhD research is about data assimilation and the use of remote sensing data to improve short term predictions of salinity in estuaries. As estuaries are dynamic systems, using information on the current state of the system will help to predict the future. In other words, we can ‘update’ the model state with real-time data (measurements of salinity, water level) to have a better model forecasts for the next few days. In the Rhine-Meuse delta, water level, salinity and temperature are being measured at several locations in the delta. This data provides important information on the current state of the system. For many other estuaries around the world, less data is available. In my research, we will investigate whether remote sensing data can fill this data-gap and improve the salinity predictions in estuaries. The goal is to extract information from satellite images (optical, thermal IR), like the location of fronts, sea surface temperature gradients and effect of wind on movement of fronts to improve salt intrusion predictions.

I am part of the Mathematical Physics group at the Tu Delft, my PhD supervisor is Martin Verlaan. My PhD is part of project 9, The Virtual Delta, where the goal is to create a tool that can be used for decision making regarding water management. Accurate short-term predictions of salinity are essential for decision making, e.g. to decide on when water is needed to flush the system to lower salinities at water extraction points. With my PhD project, I hope to contribute to more accurate short-term predictions. I am looking forward to learning more about satellite data and data-assimilation, and work on the Virtual Delta in the coming four years!

Last modified: 18/02/2022