Floods and sand storms – Precision of dendrogeomorphic markers in trees

Scenarios of climate change predict more intense precipitation events and increased periods of summer drought for the Netherlands. This will affect the occurrence of river floods and sand storms in inland drift-sand areas.

Project description

To evaluate flood risk and recurrence frequency of extreme floods, reconstruction of past flooding frequencies and intensities is required. Large scale dynamics of drift-sand areas are mainly unknown, and reconstruction of past sand deposition and erosion rates can answer questions related to the contribution of land-use changes versus climate changes to the dynamics and maintenance of these important Natura2000 habitats. Dendrogeomorphology is a powerful tool for reconstructing geomorphic events. Yet, this approach still requires detailed knowledge on the precision of dendrogeomorphic markers in trees, information which is currently not available.

This project systematically investigates the factors and mechanisms responsible for changes in tree-ring width and wood anatomy as a result of flooding and sand burial. Experiments are performed to determine the precision of dendrogeomorphic markers. Results from these experiments will be applied in reconstructing flooding and sand deposition and erosion events from trees in situ.


  • Radio interview Paul Copini: As part of the ‘research of young scientist’ interview series of  VARA-radio programme ‘Vroege Vogels’ (early birds), Paul Copini was interviewed about his oak trees in the MRI-scan. The interview (in Dutch) was broadcasted on January 31, 2010
  • Tree-excavation campaign on the radio: Our tree-excavation campaign in the Loonse en Drunense Duinen was ‘on the air’ in the radio program ‘Hoe?Zo’ (Teleac, radio 5) on the 12th of March 2009. We had been excavating two oak trees when journalist Rob de Buiter visited us for an interview (ca 6 min.).

MSc theses

  • Bos, G. Detecting radial changes in earlywood vessel size and density, as a consequence of burial, in Quercus robur (L.). (completed 2012)
  • Blanken, R. Dating Longhorned Beetles Emergence. (completed 2011)
  • Beerens, M.A.J. Wood-anatomical changes in sand-buried pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) – Can xylem vessels reveal drift-sand history? (completed 2011)
  • Loesberg, W.  (For.& Nat.Cons.-WU). Flood markers in pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) Development of anomalous earlywood vessels in inundated oaks. (completed 2011)