Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Royal Netherlands
Institute for Sea Research
Phone number
+31 (0)222 369 566
Location
Texel
Function
Senior Scientist
Expertise
  • Physics
  • Oceanography
  • Hydrodynamics, sediment transport, morphodynamics
  • Biogeochemistry and planktonic ecosystem dynamics
  • Numerical Modelling

Dr. Johan van der Molen

Senior Scientist

Calculating how humans influence the sea

Oceanographer Johan van der Molen calculates how humans influence the sea. ‘To do that, I simulate the sea using mathematical models. I split the sea surface and the water column into small cubes, and within these cubes, I assign values to things like water levels, flow rates, wave heights and the amount of sediment in the water. Besides these physical characteristics, I also convert biochemical characteristics, such as the quantity of nutrients, into numbers.’

From currents to fish larvae

‘Using models like these, I can for example calculate what happens to eggs released by fish. Currents carry these eggs to another area where they will hatch. Subsequently, the larvae are transported by the water to another area. Similarly, nutrients from rivers or from the depths of the ocean also spread in the water and fuel algal growth, which can then feed fish and other animals.’

Virtual Experiments

‘Although mathematical models are only an approximation of reality, they do provide understanding. In my digital reality, I can carry out “experiments” that could never be done at sea. For example, what happens if you put a large wind farm somewhere, or if you put long ropes in the water to grow seaweed? How does that change the currents and all the other phenomena that depend on them?’

Models in development

‘Models are being developed continuously. Following the many, still relatively small offshore wind parks that have been built, there are now plans to generate solar energy at sea. Thus, we have to adapt the models to answer new questions. Of course, that is absolutely worth the effort. After all, we want to stay ahead of the game when making radical changes at sea. Models allow us to look into the future and can warn us about the effects of our actions.’

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Interest

Research interests

I started at NIOZ as Senior Scientist in Coastal and Biophysical Oceanography in September 2017 after working at Cefas, a governmental research laboratory in Lowestoft, UK for 13 years. At Cefas, I created hydrodynamical model setups for GETM, restructured and extended the particle tracking model for GETM, developed a suspended sediment model for the coupled physical-biogeochemical model GETM-ERSEM, and contributed to the development of ERSEM. I applied these models to address scientific and managerial questions. I also gave scientific guidance to a team of numerical modellers. Before that, I worked as a post-doc at IMAU, Utrecht University on sediment transport and morphodynamics, and as visiting research fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University on wave-induced sediment resuspension.

My research interests are in modelling physical and biological material transport, biogeochemistry and ecosystem dynamics in shelf seas, in response to natural and anthropogenic influences.

Functions

Functions

2011-2017: Principal Ecosystem Modeller (Cefas). Scientific project development and coordination, model development and application

2008–2011: Senior Ecosystem Modeller (Cefas). Managing Cefas parallel computing cluster, model development and application

2004–2008: Modeller/Oceanographer (Cefas). Development and application of hydrodynamics, sediment transport, Individual Behaviour, and ecosystem models

2003–2004: Research Fellow (Manchester Metropolitan University, The Leverhulme Trust). Development of a morphodynamical model of cross-shore coastal profile evolution

2003–2001: Postdoc (Insitutute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University, The Netherlands). Modelling basin-scale morphodynamics of the North Sea

1996–2001: Postdoc (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, based at IMAU, Utrecht University, The Netherlands). Modelling Holocene hydro-dynamics and sand transport in the North Sea, and relating to the evolution of the Dutch and Belgian coasts

Publications

Key-publications

Predicting the consequences of nutrient reduction on the eutrophication status of the North Sea HJ Lenhart, DK Mills, H Baretta-Bekker, SM Van Leeuwen, J der Molen, ... Journal of Marine Systems 81 (1), 148-170.

The influence of tides, wind and waves on the net sand transport in the North Sea J Van der Molen Continental Shelf Research 22 (18), 2739-2762.

Holocene tidal conditions and tide-induced sand transport in the southern North Sea J Van der Molen, HE De Swart Journal of Geophysical Research, Oceans 106, 9339-9362.

Dispersal patterns of the eggs and larvae of spring-spawning fish in the Irish Sea, UK J van der Molen, SI Rogers, JR Ellis, CJ Fox, P McCloghrie Journal of Sea Research 58 (4), 313-330.

Modelling marine ecosystem response to climate change and trawling in the North Sea J van der Molen, JN Aldridge, C Coughlan, ER Parker, D Stephens, ... Biogeochemistry 113 (1-3), 213-236.

Please find my list of publications at the bottom of this webpage or on Google Scholar

Education

Professional education

1992-1995: Ph.D., Earth Sciences, 04/1997. Thesis: Tides in a salt-marsh. Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

1986-1991: M.Sc, Applied Physics. Thesis: Automatische optimalisatie van de veldhomogeniteit van een NMR spectrometer. Delft University of Tecnology, Delft, The Netherlands

1980-1986: VWO, Han Fortmann College, Heerhugowaard

Awards

Awards and prizes

2016: CASE partner, NERC CASE PhD studentship, Increasing understanding of changes in dissolved oxygen concentrations in UK waters (Lead insitute: Plymouth Marine Laboratory)

2014: CASE partner, NERC CASE PhD studentship. Shelf-sea variability: using annually resolved records and bioegeochemical models to identify 'good environmental status' (Lead institute: University of Exeter)

2014: Cefas Principal Investigator, NERC Marine Ecosystems Research Programme, Module 6, Biogeochemical modelling

2013: Cefas Principal Investigator, NERC Shelf Seas Biogeochemistry Programme, Work Package 4: Integrative Modelling for Shelf Seas Biogeochemistry

2003: Visiting Researcher Fellowship grant, The Leverhulme Trust, Dalton Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK

2001: Large-scale morphodynamics of shelf seas, NWO, 93 kEuro, IMAU, Utrecht

Other

Committees

2015-2017: Member of the Executive Committee of the National Partnership for Ocean Prediction

From 2014: Deputy President, Ocean Science Division, European Geosciences Union

From 2009: Secretary for Coastal and Shelf Seas, Ocean Science Division, European Geosciences Union

From 2008: Convener Open Session on Coastal and Shelf Seas, EGU annual assemblies

From 2006: Member organising group OSPAR International Correspondence Group for Ecosystem Modelling (ICG-EMO)

Poster

Linked news

Wednesday 20 May 2020
Four NWO grants boost NIOZ North Sea and fishery research
The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has awarded grants to NIOZ scientists Johan van der Molen and Karline Soetaert for research into the effects of future offshore wind farms on marine life, sediment, and underwater sand waves in the North Sea. The…

NIOZ publications

  • 2020
    Karpouzoglou, T.; Vlaswinkel, B.; van der Molen, J. (2020). Effects of large-scale floating (solar photovoltaic) platforms on hydrodynamics and primary production in a coastal sea from a water column model. Ocean Sci. 16: 195-208. https://dx.doi.org/10.5194/os-16-195-2020
    Legge, O.; Johnson, M.; Hicks, N.; Jickells, T.; Diesing, M.; Aldridge, J.; Andrews, J.; Artioli, Y.; Bakker, D.C.E.; Burrows, M.T.; Carr, N.; Cripps, G.; Felgate, S.L.; Fernand., L.; Greenwood, N.; Hartman, S.; Kröger, S.; Lessin, G.; Mahaffey, C.; Mayor, D.J.; Parker, R.; Queirós, A.M.; Shutler, J.D.; Silva, T.; Stahl, H.; Tinker, J.; Underwood, G.J.C.; van der Molen, J.; Wakelin, S.; Weston, K.; Williamson, P. (2020). Carbon on the northwest European shelf: Contemporary budget and future influences. Front. Mar. Sci. 7(article 143). https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.00143
    Luisetti, T.; Ferrini, S.; Grilli, G.; Jickells, T.D.; Kennedy, H.; Kröger, S.; Lorenzoni, I.; Milligan, B.; van der Molen, J.; Parker, R.; Pryce, T.; Turner, R.K.; Tyllianakis, E. (2020). Climate action requires new accounting guidance and governance frameworks to manage carbon in shelf seas. Nature Comm. 11: 4599. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-18242-w
    Philippart, C.J.M.; Dethmers, K.E.M.; van der Molen, J.; Seinen, A. (2020). Ecological engineering for the optimisation of the land-based marine aquaculture of coastal shellfish. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17(19): 7224. https://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17197224
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    Tidbury, Hannah; Taylor, Nick; van der Molen, J.; Garcia, Luz; Posen, Paulette; Gill, Andrew; Lincoln, S.; Judd, A.; Hyder, K. (2020). Social network analysis as a tool for marine spatial planning: Impacts of decommissioning on connectivity in the North Sea. J. Appl. Ecol. 57(3): 566-577. https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.13551
  • 2019
    García-García, L.M.; Sivyer, D.; Devlin, M.; Painting, S.; Collingridge, K.; van der Molen, J. (2019). Optimizing monitoring programs: a case study based on the OSPAR eutrophication assessment for UK waters. Front. Mar. Sci. 5: 503. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00503
  • 2018
    Beraud, C.; van der Molen, J.; Armstrong, M.; Hunter, E.; Fonseca, L.; Hyder, K. (2018). The influence of oceanographic conditions and larval behaviour on settlement success—the European sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax (L.). ICES J. Mar. Sci./J. Cons. int. Explor. Mer 75(2): 455–470. https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsx195
    van der Molen, J.; García-García; Whomersley, P.; Callaway, A.; Posen, P.E.; Hyder, K. (2018). Connectivity of larval stages of sedentary marine communities between hard substrates and offshore structures in the North Sea. NPG Scientific Reports 8: 14772. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-32912-2
    van der Molen, J.; Ruardij, P.; Mooney, K.; Kerrison, P.; O'Connor, N.E.; Gorman, E.; Timmermans, K.; Wright, S.; Kelly, M.; Hughes, A.D.; Capuzzo (2018). Modelling potential production of macroalgae farms in UK and Dutch coastal waters. Biogeosciences 15(4): 1123-1147. https://dx.doi.org/10.5194/bg-15-1123-2018
    Whomersley, P.; van der Molen, J.; Holt, D.; Trundle, C.; Clark, S.; Fletcher, D. (2018). Modeling the dispersal of spiny lobster (Palinurus elephas) larvae: Implications for future fisheries management and conservation measures. Front. Mar. Sci. 5: 58. https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00058
  • 2017
    Ford, D.A.; van der Molen, J.; Hyder, K.; Bacon, J.; Barciela, R.; Creach, V.; McEwan, R.; Ruardij, P.; Forster, R. (2017). Observing and modelling phytoplankton community structure in the North Sea. Biogeosciences 14(6): 1419-1444. https://dx.doi.org/10.5194/bg-14-1419-2017
    Townhill, B.L.; van der Molen, J.; Metcalfe, J.D.; Simpson, S.D.; Farcas, A.; Pinnegar, J.K. (2017). Consequences of climate-induced low oxygen conditions for commercially important fish. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 580: 191-204. https://dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps12291
    van der Molen, J.; Ruardij, P.; Greenwood, N. (2017). A 3D SPM model for biogeochemical modelling, with application to the northwest European continental shelf. J. Sea Res. 127: 63-81. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seares.2016.12.003

Linked projects

VBK_Pilot Study Shellfish Aquaculture
Supervisor
Katja Philippart
Funder
Waddenfonds
Project duration
1 Jan 2015 - 31 Dec 2019