UYA-member Niko Wanders and five other UU-researchers receive ERC Starting Grant

1,5 million euros for a research team or own programme

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Six researchers at Utrecht University have been awarded an ERC Starting Grant.  The European Research Council awarded the €1.5 million grant to UYA member Niko Wanders.  Other UU-researchers receiving the grant are Yang YaoFrederik VerweijDaan WeitsFloris Schuiling and Daan van Uhm. The grant helps them to set up their own research project, assemble a research team and develop scientific ideas.

Unravelling the mechanisms behind Multi-Year Droughts

I want to use the grant to unravel the complexities behind multi-year droughts.

Project MultiDry

Niko Wanders
Niko Wanders

Recent decades have seen a doubling in multi-year droughts around the world, for example in Chile, South-Africa, California and even Western Europe. These droughts negatively affect agriculture, drinking water supply, hydropower, shipping and ecosystems. Contrary to ‘normal’ droughts, effects of multi-year droughts take years or decades to be reversed. Due to climate change, multi-year droughts are projected to become more frequent and longer, and the potential recovery time between them will decrease, making society more vulnerable to drought impacts.

Multi-year droughts are fundamentally different from ‘normal’ droughts. The aim of MultiDry is to unravel the complexity behind multi-year droughts and identify the drivers and interactions with vegetation, groundwater systems and human water use. The MultiDry results will inform policymakers and water managers around the world on future water challenges. MultiDry will also provide the new knowledge needed to quantify future drought vulnerability around the world, and improve global hydrological modelling of these events and drought preparedness.

The European Research Council (ERC) is awarding an ERC Starting Grant to 408 scientists this year. Six of these laureates are researchers at Utrecht University. The funding totals €636 million and is part of the Horizon Europe programme.