Combating climate change

The subsurface harbours some of the solutions which can help us in the Netherlands to combat climate change or to adapt to its consequences. The Geological Survey of the Netherlands (GDN) is researching the conditions for those solutions and their implications for our energy system, groundwater, and construction.

Towards a sustainable use of the subsurface using 3D mapping

Climate change is changing societal needs regarding the use of the subsurface. With this, GDN’s contribution has taken a new direction. We use the large amounts of subsurface data at our disposal (due to our statutory role in the National Key Registry of the Subsurface (BRO) and the Mining Act) to arrive at models that provide new insights into the sustainable use of the subsurface using 3D mapping. This is important in area management and political decision-making.

Underground storage of energy and greenhouse gases

The Netherlands is at the forefront of research into the safe underground storage of gases to enable the decarbonisation of our energy system. The greenhouse gas carbon dioxide itself is suitable for underground storage in depleted gas fields and salt caverns. Solar and wind energy can be captured in gases such as hydrogen or compressed air and then stored underground until its energy is needed somewhere in the country.

Subsidence and sea-level rise

A low groundwater level results in the compression of the soil, and hence, subsidence. In agricultural areas where the groundwater level is kept artificially low, subsidence continues. It is GDN’s task to measure the rate of subsidence. Subsidence in the Netherlands has long been closely monitored using fixed benchmarks in the landscape. We use those long-term measurement data in models of expected or extreme future scenarios. Where the soil is subsiding fastest, sea levels or groundwater levels are rising especially fast, and the likelihood of problems such as salinisation and wetting is relatively high. With our research on the subsurface underneath dykes, for example, we generate the knowledge needed to live safely.

Knowledge of the subsurface for construction

To start using new energy sources, innovative, safe installations are needed. This not only requires broadening and deepening our knowledge, but also improving our transfer of it. Immediately applicable knowledge that can be processed in models helps to make the design of our country future-proof. Knowledge about, for example, the solidity of sea beds (enabling us to place wind turbines on them) or the condition of the subsurface around hot water in the deep subsurface (enabling us to drill geothermal wells). With this, we provide regional policymakers with the necessary information and knowledge to make informed spatial choices.

Want to know more?

Contact Michiel van der Meulen for more information about our work on climate adaptation and climate mitigation using the blue ‘mail directly’ button below.

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