Alumnus Bart van Stratum – MSc Earth and Environment

Because of my interest in meteorology, I enrolled in the BSc Soil Water and Atmosphere in September 2006. During my BSc study I developed a strong interest in small-scale meteorological processes—especially numerical modeling of them—and I have been working on that subject ever since.

During my study I greatly enjoyed the freedom of academic research, and because of that decided to pursue a PhD position

For me the master Earth and Environment, with the Meteorology and Air Quality specialisation, was the perfect continuation of my BSc study. It provided relevant courses for my specific interests (for example the course Atmospheric Modeling), but also the freedom to do a second master thesis and an extended (6 month) research internship abroad. During my study I greatly enjoyed the freedom of academic research, and because of that decided to pursue a PhD position. With this goal in mind, the opportunity to do additional research projects was very welcome.

MSc thesis

During my MSc I worked together with Jordi Vila-Guerau de Arellano, Chiel van Heerwaarden and Kees van den Dries on developing a conceptual model for educational purposes (CLASS), which is now used in a number of Earth and Environment courses. One limitation of the original model was that it was only suitable for studying cloudless conditions. During my first MSc thesis we extended the model formulation to account for the influence of shallow cumuli on the development of the sub-cloud layer. This was my first experience with both numerical modeling, and coding such models in modern languages like C++/Python, which has proven to be very useful in later work. During my second MSc thesis and internship I focused more on turbulence resolving models (large-eddy simulation; LES, and direct numerical simulation; DNS). In my second MSc thesis we used DNS to study the behavior of small unresolved scales in LES, and its representation in LES by sub-grid scale models. During my internship at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg we implemented Lagrangian particle tracking in LES, which allows for the spatial and temporal tracking of massless particles. Knowing the inner workings of the models you are using is crucial, and both my second MSc thesis and internship provided the perfect introduction to the world of LES.


After I finished my MSc in 2012, I was offered a PhD position at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. There I am currently working in the High Definition Clouds and Precipitation for Climate Prediction (HD(CP)**2) project; a project aimed at high resolution modeling of the atmosphere, with the goal of improving the understanding and representation of convection, clouds and precipitation in general circulation models. More specifically I’m looking at the role of nocturnal processes, and the influence of not correctly representing them in our models, on daytime convection. The main tool that we are using to address this question is LES, and the knowledge of this type of model that I acquired during my study has greatly sped up the start of my research!