Here’s what’s been keeping me busy lately:


April 2024: through the weather app “Windy”, we knew that Saharan dust would be blown North towards Europe. After a call on Facebook for people to help me collect this dust, I received >30 samples from all over the country!
Here you see the characteristic colour of Saharan dust in five samples that were sent to me.
Read more about the “oven-dish event” in the blog I wrote on the NIOZ website.

March 2024: At the NAC - Nederlands Aardwetenschappelijk Congres I presented my work on a poster, which --after coming back from NOLA-- had turned more into a flag....



February 2024: Together with Catarina Guerreiro I organised a session for the Ocean Sciences Meeting in New Orleans on the relation between aerosols and ocean productivity. This session was then merged with Amanda Frossard and Andrew Wozniak’s, who had a more or less similar idea. In the end we had a great session called “The biogeochemistry of air-sea exchange processes”.

We used the time in NOLA to also discuss with Afonso Ferreira. Catarina wrote a blog about the event, which you can read here.

December 2023: Right before the winter storms hit the Dutch coast, we started the T0 measurements in the area where notches will be dug next year. A blog (in Dutch) about this monitoring program was written on the NIOZ website.


news-2023-11-20 plaatje-trouw

20 November 2023: The national newspaper Trouw spent an article on dust as a result of the UN meeting on dust in Uzbekistan.

October 2023: Together with NIOZ colleague Leon, I boarded the tug Lione to service the sediment-trap that is collecting Saharan dust for us in the Mediterranean Sea. On NIOZ’ dustiest website, we kept a blog of our whereabouts.



15 August 2023: The  nice paper we published in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on atmospheric-methane removal by dust, got quite some attention of the national and international media.



July 2023: The mid-conference field trip took us to yet another dune field: White Sands National Park in New Mexico.



July 2023: as part of the ICAR - International Conference on Aeolian Research I joined a pre-conference field trip to the Samalayuca Dunes in the Mexican Chihuahua Desert.

26 June 2023: VU BSc students Mansur, Mylan and Jelle present their work on Texel dunes for an audience of foresters and proud parents at NIOZ.



25 April 2023: the 20th anniversary of the EGU session “Aeolian dust, initiator, player and recorder of environmental change” draws a lot of attention from many colleagues working on an ever-growing spectrum of scientific studies.

New paper out! Catarina’s done it again with a very nice paper in Frontiers in Marine Science on the relationship between dust input and primary productivity along the AMT - Atlantic Meridional Transect. Click here for the PDF of the paper.


April 2023: Together with VU colleagues Maarten Prins and Kay Beets  we study aeolian processes on a windy day in the dunes of Texel with a group of BSc and MSc students.

March 2023: practically all month we have spent at sea, chasing Saharan dust. Please click here for a blog of RV Pelagia expedition 64PE514


news-2023-02-14 LTO-praatje

14 February 2023: LTO-Noord invited Gerrit Hiemstra and me to present facts & figures about climate change. In this tandem talk I started with natural climate variability from a geologic perspective and Gerrit talked about present-day climate and future projections with several CO2-scenarios. The message is quite clear; we need to mitigate and switch to renewable sources of energy now!

January 2023: it is the time of year when winter storms hit the coast. When it does not rain, the wind blows a lot of sand from the beach on to the dunes. However, in recent years the dunes have grown very steep, so that sand can only reach the hinterland through notches. Here you see how sand is blown through a natural notch. There are plans to dig man-made notches to allow more sand reaching the hinterland to combat acidification of soils, increase the water-carrying capacity of the dunes and strengthen the coastal-defence function.


December 2022: I was invited to tell pupils from OSG De Hogeberg all about climate on our little planet, how it is changing due to human influences and what we can learn from the past to understand the consequences of e.g. rising atmospheric CO2 levels for future climate scenarios.

November 2022: Buoy Carmen somehow escaped from her mooring lines and set sail towards the South. Fortunately, British colleagues onboard RRS Discovery were willing and able to make a small detour to pick her up and bring her to Mindelo where she is now standing at the premises of the OSCM - Ocean Sciences Center Mindelo. In March 2023 we will re-deploy her during RV Pelagia expedition 64PE514.

Buoy Carmen standing on the deck of RRS Discovery


Mid-September 2022: Dusty colleague Catarina Guerreiro and I hosted a session during a scientific conference in Lima Peru. Afterwards we went into some deserts to study aeolian processes.
Click here to view the blog on the NIOZ website and on the CHASE blog

22 August 2022: With Texel - Vlieland as preparation, we now swam with this set of champs from Den Helder to Texel. In a straight line that would be 4km but with the currents our course took more than 6km....



8 August 2022: With the open-water swimmers of ZPC TX’71 we swam from Texel to the next island (Vlieland); a stretch of about 4km with amazingly strong currents.

30 June 2022: Within the freshwater-storage project (Zoete Toekomst) we had a site visit with reps of all participating parties to the now-working injection station. Let the rains come!



Mid June 2022: Yvo and I joined the tug Macistone to service the sediment-trap mooring that has been collecting Saharan dust for some years now. Click here to view the blog that we kept.

3 June 2022: One of my teachers at the high school I attended in Harderwijk (last century) invited me to talk to his pupils about my work; how on earth did I manage to become a professor.....???



End May 2022: The European Geosciences Union took place again and we set up the dust session once more. It turned out that many colleagues had sampled the 17 March outbreak and now we are joining forces to study its dispersal and deposition patterns. Photo by Gyorgy, with Marie and Didier.

19 May 2022: Britte makes her debut in the national volleyball team in a game with France. Not so long ago she was asking players for their autographs, now she is handing them out herself....



9 May 2022; as delegates of the Texel Freshwater Foundation (Zoete Toekomst) Francine Giskes and I took part in a meeting in Carolinensiel to try and draw attention to climate-change issues in the Wadden region including those in the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark.

6 May 2022: We participated with a group of NIOZ colleagues in NWO’s science for children event: Expedition Next. The little experiment on why some particles can be suspended in air while others can not drew quite some attention again.



April 2022: A local glossy pays attention to my work

31 March 2022: Thé national news radio channel (NPO1) allowed me to talk about my dusty research during the --very-- early morning of 31 March. I was interviewed by Jan van Poppel who stood in for Mirthe van der Drift in the program “De nacht van NTR”. The interview was followed by questions from people listening in (quite amazing at that early hour....).
 You can either listen to the recording on this website, or on the NPO website.


2022-03-17 dust-in-NL08-ovenschaal2

17 March 2022: Knowing that the dust from Sahara would pass over Texel during the nigh (thanks Windy.com!) I put thoroughly-cleaned oven dishes in my garden to collect the material. It turns out that about 300mg/m² was deposited; amazing amounts at more than 2500km from its source!

17 March 2022: The Sircocco winds that often blow in late winter, carry a LOT of Saharan dust towards the North. It is all over the news across Europe. #welstoffignietsaai The meteo app Windy.com predicted the dust event quite nicely.



April 2022: My favourite magazine spent an interview on my dusty work (in Dutch). Now I have ‘published’ in all magazines I have (had) subscriptions to, including KIJK (popular science), Volkskrant (national daily newspaper) and Donald Duck!

February 2022: The sustainability magazine ‘Milieu Magazine” spent an article on my dusty work. (in Dutch)



November - December 2021: With a team of four NIOZ colleagues we have joined research expedition MSM104 - SIPA onboard RV Maria S. Merian from Emden to the study area off NW Africa.
Click here to read the blog that we kept.



(photo credit: Daan Eldering)

21 October 2021: de tekst zoals ik ‘m vandaag heb uitgesproken
(click plaatje voor de PDF)


21 October 2021: with an inaugural address entitled “stof tot nadenken”, I have formally accepted the chair in Aeolian Sedimentology at VU - Vrije Universiteit. (clip in Dutch)

16 September 2021: an episode of BiodiversityXL entitled “in the sky” in which I present some ideas on aeolian dust and biodiversity.
(click the image to a YouTube clip of the episode)



25 June 2021: Klifhanger Texel organised “Vloedlijn”, a three-day program connecting art and science, and invited me to talk about sand.
Please click image to link to the website (in Dutch)

30 April 2021: the 18th edition of the dust session was a great one again (OK, maybe I am biased a tick) but this year both EGU and we were much better prepared for the online version of the presentations.
Please click image for link to EGU website with PICO presentations.

news-2021-04 egu-dust-session


1 March 2021: it is official: I now may call myself professor with a honorary chair in “Aeolian Sedimentology” at VU - Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

12 January 2021: we have set off for a four weeks’ cruise to chase Saharan dust around the Cape Verde Islands. Please do not hesitate to follow our blog.


4 December 2020: as an introduction to the upcoming RV Pelagia expedition in January 2021 [a blog has already started], I gave a presentation for the pre-exam class of the local high school (5VWO van OSG ‘De Hogeberg’) on Texel. An old man seemed to want to learn more about dust too.....

6 November 2020: An ENW-XS grant was awarded to me by NWO to construct a wet-dust collector, to be installed on our dust-collecting buoys that are monitoring Saharan dust in the eastern North Atlantic Ocean. This is very good news as it gives me the opportunity to prolong the Saharan-dust monitoring program around the Cape Verde Islands for another year!



30 August 2020: together with my ZPC-TX mates I swam across the Marsdiep, which separates the island of Texel from the mainland. With a fresh wind of 5Bft. the sea was pretty choppy and I now know what a towel experiences in the washing machine....
On the photo (made by Alphons Nieuwenhuis) you see Peter and me being very happy after nearly 6km and 2 hours swimming and having made it to the right island.



2 August 2020: the Netflix series Connected spends some time on my favourite subject: dust!


6 July 2020: The Wadden Academy, through the Waddenfonds has granted us 1.8M€ to start a pilot of the project “Zoete Toekomst” (a fresh future) in which we will try to store fresh water in sand lenses underneath the island of Texel during winter, to pump it up in summer during periods of drought. This water shall then be used for both farming and nature areas.



2 July 2020: for the program Natuurwijzer (NIOZ contribution to a show produced by the local radio station) I was interviewed by Tessel Blok. The interview was broadcasted on Sunday 5 July and parts of it appear in the NIOZ podcast.

21 June 2020: the IODP - International Ocean Discovery Program drill ship Joides Resolution is leaving Amsterdam today after some weeks of maintenance. I was asked to spend some words on my work in the framework of IODP. Always good fun to work with Dan Brinkhuis (ScienceMedia) and his crew. Click here for the clip on YouTube.



8 May 2020: for the 17th time we will have the dustiest scientific session of the EGU - European Geosciences Union. This year, for the first time, the session will be fully online. Please follow this link for more info.

May 2020: our dusty special volume in The Holocene is out!
This special is the result of the PAGES-DICE workshop organised by Francois de Vleeschouwer and Fabrice Lambert in Las Cruses, Chile, in January 2018.



April 2020: whoop whoop, Laura’s paper in L&O is published! The message of this paper is that the Amazon River outflow has a large potenital for atmospheric CO2 sequestration, just like Saharan dust!

April 2020: the sand catchers were updated to version 2.0

March 2020: keeping fit during the corona-crisis home isolation....

March 2020
Now that we can analyse the shape of aeolian particles, we should be able to quantify the relationship between wind strength and aeolian deposits, based on their particle size, particle shape and composition. Here I am testing a prototype sediment collector on the southern sandy part of the island Texel



March 2020
Whoop whoop, Michèlle’s paper on trans-Atlantic dust fluxes has appeared in Geophysical Research Letters!

February 2020
FEST stands for Friday Earth Sciences Talk at the faculty of Earth Sciences of Utrecht University and I was invited to spend some words on my favourite topic: dust!



January 2020
The year started very windy so that the new natural coastal defence just north of NIOZ was very mobile....

January 2020
The VU earth sciences students society GEOVUSIE organises a seminar every now and then and this time I was allowed to spend some words on my favourite subject: dust!



November 2019
Expedition DUST2019 was organised to service the dust-collecting buoys Carmen and Laura offshore NW Africa onboard RV Pelagia. Please click here to read the blog on the NIOZ site

November 2019
The MSc course Marine Geology & Paleoclimatology that Frank Peeters and I are teaching at VU kicks off at NIOZ, and this year’s students were extremely lucky to find our flag ship RV Pelagia to be home; we obviously visited her instead of taking class!



October 2019
Here you see a set-up that I made to illustrate aeolian processes for the NIOZ open day

October 2019
The organisation of inDUST invited me to come talk about  trans-Atlantic dust studies during their general assembly in Porto, Portugal.



September 2019
Maarten Prins and I organised a one-day Tour de Texel on the geologic history of the island for the VU-Amsterdam earth-science student association GeoVUsie

September 2019
Some footage was shot for a documentary on my dusty work



July 2019
The general assembly of INQUA (International Union for Quaternary Research) in Dublin offered a platform for many scientific disciplines focussing on human and climate history during the past 2.6 Myrs.

July 2019
For S.E.A. I also teamed up with Jan van den Berg and Hannie van den Bergh who created a podcast-sandy-walk in the Texel dunes, featuring me as a curious scientist who helps solve a crime based on the journey that sand particles can make....



June 2019
For S.E.A. (Science Encounters Art or Scientists Encounter Artists) I teamed up with Erwin Driessens and Maria Verstappen who made an exhibition called Pareidolia in which face-recognition software analyses sand particles to see if faces can be seen in them (Yes: they can!)

May 2019
The paper by Marijke de Bar was published in the open-access  journal Biogeosciences. Marijke used the Transatlantic sediment traps to validate her diol-proxy for SSTs.



Summer 2019
A piece on my studies after the role of desert dust in the earth’s climate in the local Texel newspaper.


May 2019
Our paper on an “old” ODP core was published in Geophysical Research Letters despite attempts to block and even discredit our work!



23 April 2019
Saharan dust reached northern Europe and I wrote a little blog about it on the NIOZ dust website.

April 2019
The collaboration with Patrick De Deckker resulted in yet another paper on southern-hemisphere climates and in this particular one we focus on the geological remnants that we found on the pre-last glacial in the Australasian region.



6 March 2019
With a delegation of NIOZ I travelled to Bremerhaven to formalize collaboration between several German and Dutch research institutes including NIOZ, AWI, and MARUM, witnessed by the Dutch King and Queen.

January 2019
The long lasting and very fruitful collaboration with Patrick De Deckker (ANU, Canberra, Australia) has resulted in yet another paper:”Land-sea correlation in the Australian region”, which is part two in a series of two papers.



December 2018
Our paper on giant dust particles made it into the open-access version of the journal Science! (link to paper)

7 December 2018
Michèlle successfully defends her PhD thesis entitled Saharan dust from a marine perspective: transport and deposition along a transect in the Atlantic Ocean and may also proudly call herself a Phd from now on.



November 2018
We participate in expedition MSM79 onboard the German RV Maria S. Merian, sailing from Gran Canaria to Cape Verde. (blog on NIOZ website)

16 October  2018
Laura successfully defends her PhD thesis entitled Saharan dust deposition in the equatorial North Atlantic Ocean and its impact on particle export fluxes and may proudly call herself a PhD from now on.



September 2018
Michèlle publishes her 2nd dusty paper in the journal Aeolian Research

August 2018
RV Pelagia in the harbour of Catania, Sicily, Italy, ready to sail for expedition 64PE443 (blog on NIOZ website)



July 2018
The poster of my dusty seminar at the University of Toulouse, where I visited Fran;cois de Vleeschouwer



On  top of Dune de Pilat: the present ICAR president Frank Eckhardt (L) and past president Adrian Chappell, with the president-elect


June 2018: the 10th International Conference on Aeolian Research (ICAR X) where Martina Klose and I convened the session
“Dust dynamics and processes: emission, dispersal and deposition”

June 2018
A piece in the Texelse Courant on the kick-off of project S.E.A.: Science Encounters Art, in which Jan van den Berg and me are developing a project for the art month Lange juni 2019



May 2018
The Groene Amsterdammer wrote a piece on geo-engineering for which they also asked my input (in Dutch)

May 2018
Helga’s first dusty paper is out! We present new data on the ballasting potential of Saharan dust



January 2018
Catarina, Laura and me (R2L) at the biological station of the University of Chile in Las Cruces where the PAGES-DICE workshop on dust was organised (#lovemyjob)

January 2018
During the NICO expedition, leg 2 (Gran Canaria - Curaçao) on board RV Pelagia, dust was sampled, and plenty of it! In this animated gif you can see several outbreaks of Saharan dust.



December 2017
Laura Schreuder published her first study on the biomarkers in Saharan dust in Organic Geochemistry. Cheers Laura, here’s to many more dusty papers!


Ute Merkel and me organised the 4th German “dust day” €(Staubtag) at the MARUM in Bremen on 22 November 2017

October 2017
Catarinas first dusty paper is out: accepted as full paper in Biogeochemistry



August 2017:
Cruise M140 on board FS Meteor took us from Cape Verde to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and gave us the opportunity to visit and service the sampling of Saharan dust with both marine sediment traps and dust-collecting buoys. See the NIOZ website for a blog

July 2017
The end-member approach proved its value once more; with it we managed to tease apart not only aeolian dust from fluvial mud but also turbidites that have their own grain-size signature!
You can read all about it in the paper by Anne Bernhardt and colleagues that came out this week in EPSL.

news-Bernhardt et al 2017-screenshot


June 2017
A first for Catarina: her first dusty paper came out as a discussion paper in the EGU open-access journal Biogeochemistry! Cheers Catarina, here’s to many more!

June 2017
A first for Laura: her first paper came out in the EGU open-access journal  Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics! Cheers Laura, here’s to many more!



May 2017
Carmen successfully defended her PhD thesis at the MARUM, Bremen, Germany, on 2 May.
Congratulations DOCTOR Friese!!
Here she is proudly wearing her personalized gown and Dr’s hat.

April 2017
During this year’s EGU meeting Peter Knippertz, Jo Nield, Tobias Lauer, and me organised a PICO session on dust, which was a great success!! Here you see colleagues lining up for their 2 minutes of fame in the 2-minute madness in which they pitched their presentation. Next year we’ll organise the session again and then celebrate its 15th anniversary during EGU2018.



March 2017
Jiawang Lu’s paper was published in Quaternary Science Reviews.

March 2017
The joint committee on Science and Technology of South Africa and the Netherlands met in The Hague to explore ideas and challenges on potential collaboration



February 2017
Carmen’s manuscript was accepted as a discussion paper in EGU’s open-access journal Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics

February 2017
Dust-collecting buoy Carmen had escaped last summer and we went back to her original position off Cape Blanc to re-deploy her. She’s now happily collecting Saharan dust again and we’ll harvest the samples during upcoming cruise M140 in August this year.



October 2016
The Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science granted me a fellowship to come to Japan and with Dr Kana Nagashima and Prof Masafumi Murayama on ODP cores from the continental slope offshore NW Australia. This photo was taken in Kamakura.

August 2016
Oops, she did it again.... Buoy Carmen was cut loose from her anchor off Cape Blanc. This time the FS Meteor with chief scientist Marcus Dengler came to the rescue and picked her up.



June 2016
Lange Juni, a cultural and art festival on the island, introduced the term ”Science-theater” for which we invited Jan van den Berg to come play his piece Oase about desert sand.

May 2016
Kenniscafé Amsterdam organised an interactive evening about the sea and invited me to come and talk about dust.



Next to a few radio items, Gemma Venhuizen also wrote a really nice piece in the national newspaper NRC Handelsblad.

April 2016
During cruise JC134 we had another journalist with us: Gemma Venhuizen. She made a few nice radio items, which you find here.



November 2015
The ITS Academy wanted to learn about the state-of-the-art of marine research and organised an afternoon of talks and practicial lab work at the VU Amsterdam. My intention was to get to know potential teachers that would join our next cruise: JC134 onboard RRS James Cook in spring 2016

August 2015
It was decided to present all this dusty knowledge in a series of online lectures, which you can attend here



December 2014
In preparation for our 2015 DUSTTRAFFIC cruise onboard RV Pelagia, some pupils of the Texel highschool OSG De Hogeberg learned all about the environmental impacts of dust deposition while decorating styrofoam cups that we were going to lower to 5000m. They had to guess what would happen to the cups....

Summer 2014
The Dutch national newspaper De Volkskrant selected 12 lines of scientific research they were going to report on for an extended period: here is one of their nice pieces on our dusty research.



May 2014
Publishing our scientific results in scientific journals does not compare with being allowed to publish in the popular-science magazine KIJK. Being allowed to give a talk about my dusty work during a KIJK-live event is a dream come true!

January 2014
The Natuurstruners came to visit again! This time we did some really COOL experiments with (dry) ice.



Summer 2013:
Journalist Ronald Veldhuizen joined our cruise DUSTTRAFFIC II and wrote quite a lot of nice pieces about it! Here is one of those articles he wrote for the website: Wetenschap24

August 2013
The MARUM-NIOZ dust buoy that was deployed at the long-term sediment-trap mooring station offshore Cape Blanc, Mauritania had escaped! It turned out she had been cut loose and drifting south. Fortunately, our colleagues from the Cape Verde Fisheries and Marine Research Institute INDP in Mindelo, Sao Vicente were willing and able to pick her up from onboard their RV Islandia



March 2013
The fellows of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences invited me to present my latest findings on transatlantic Saharan dust

January 2013
The IVN (Nature association) at Texel invited me to give a seminar about my work.



November 2012
Together with Michèlle I gave a seminar for Geo-VUsie students on the transatlantic crossing we did onboard FS Meteor

May  2012
Whoop whoop! Both ERC and NWO (Dutch national NSF) are willing to fund my plans for a transatlantic study of Saharan dust!



March 2012
18 Texelse Natuurstruners came to visit NIOZ to learn all about (not only sea-) water.

February 2011
The public lecture on dust in Science Café Deventer was great fun!Good to see how many people are actually interested in science; the house was full! ....or maybe it was the band that was playing after my talk.....?



March  2010
After the Beagle episode on the potential of dust fertilisation I participated in a live interactive discussion in the VPRO tv studios.