dr.ir. THM (Tim) van Emmerik

dr.ir. THM (Tim) van Emmerik

Universitair docent

As an experimental hydrologist, I aim to provide accurate and reliable data to solve societal water-related challenges. As plastic pollution of aquatic ecosystems is an emerging hazard, my ambition is therefore to develop river plastic monitoring techniques that can be applied to (1) quantify plastic pollution in any river around the world, and (2) optimize plastic pollution prevention and reduction strategies. A holistic approach is key, as rivers, societies and their interconnections vary greatly around the world. River plastic pollution is a complex problem that crosses spatiotemporal scales. My research therefore focuses on developing methods that can be applied at both the field scale (single rivers) and global scale (continental assessments).

Current projects:

  • The River Plastic Monitoring Project (NWO Veni, 2020).¬†Riverine macroplastics (>0.5 cm) cause harm to humans and the environment, are a main source of microplastics and contribute to the plastic soup. Reliable observations are crucial to design prevention, mitigation and cleanup strategies. With the universal monitoring framework to be developed, macroplastics can be measured consistently in any river.
  • Plastic Plants (NWO Open Mind, 2019 & ESA OSIP, 2020). Water hyacinths are invasive free-floating aquatic plants abundant in most tropical rivers. They grow rapidly in biomass, and expand in patches of tens of meters in diameter. Hyacinths have been found to entangle macroplastics. This project futher investigates the role of hyacinths on riverine plastic transport.
  • Integrated Monitoring of Plastic in Rivers, Estuaries and Seas (IMPRES, Sandwich PhD, 2020). Development of an integrated monitoring approach to identify and quantify sources, sinks, and transport mechanisms of macroplastic pollution in the Red River, Vietnam.
  • Breaking the Plastic-Flood Nexus (WUR Africa Talent Programme, 2021). Floods multiply the mobilization of plastic into the environment. At the same time, plastic accumulate at and around hydraulic infrastructure, leading to rising water levels and increased urban flood risk. We aim to break this nexus through opportunistic sensing of rainfall, river plastic, and hydrodynamics in Accra, Ghana.