Van der Zee, Sjoerd

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Sjoerd van der Zee 1955-2022


Sjoerd van Der Zee grew up in Heerlen, the Netherlands, and in 1974, he started his studies at the Wageningen Agricultural University. He received his BSc (1978) and MSc (1981) in Soil Physics and Soil Chemistry. In 1978, he did an internship at the Department of Agricultural Engineering of the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa (Israel). For his MSc research, he spent 6 months at the USDA Sedimentation Laboratory in Oxford, Mississippi (USA) in 1979. From 1981 to 1984, he worked at the Department of Physical and Chemical research of the Laboratory of Soil Mechanics of Delft University. In 1984, he returned to Wageningen for his PhD research, where he received his doctorate (cum laude) in 1988. While his earlier work focused on soil and groundwater contamination, he later became active in the broad field of ecohydrology. He had many sabbatical visits abroad, including at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne in Switzerland, at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in Norway, and at Monash University in Australia. Likewise, he hosted many scientists visiting his group for a sabbatical. During his career he also presided the Dutch Soil Science Association (2002–2005) and the Boussinesq Center for Hydrology (2005–2008), he was chair and member of the scientific advisory board of UFZ (Environment Research Center) in Germany (2005–2013), and he was a member of the editorial board of several scientific journals such as Vadose Zone Journal, Transport in Porous Media, and the European Journal of Soil Science.

Hydrological Achievements[edit]

Sjoerd van Der Zee has made outstanding scientific contributions in the area of soil and groundwater contamination. His early research was focused on the flow of water and the transport of solutes in heterogeneous porous media and soils. He had the rare ability to combine chemical and physical concepts and principles in modeling subsurface solute transport. He was a pioneer in developing analytical models that combined reaction kinetics with flow and transport. Later in his career, he broadened his research to ecohydrology, applying physical principles to larger-scale hydrological and geochemical problems. There, he also studied surface runoff and overland flow of water and chemicals from the soil surface to surface water networks. During his career, Sjoerd supervised more than 30 PhD students and has produced over 350 publications, of which 220 were in international scientific journals.


Besides his skillfulness in conceptualizing transport pathways into mathematical, physical, and chemical descriptions, he was a gifted painter and sang in the choir led by his wife Gemma. He was known for his subtle humor and took pleasure in making up funny project and model acronyms.

Reference Material[edit]

Text adapted from van der Ploeg, M., de Jong van Lier, Q. and Flury, M., 2022. In Memoriam: Sjoerd EATM van der Zee, Vadose Zone Journal, 21(6), e20230,

Selected Publications[edit]

Van der Zee, S.E. and van Riemsdijk, W.H., 1988. Model for long‐term phosphate reaction kinetics in soil (Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 35-41). American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America.

Stigliani, W.M., Doelman, P., Salomons, W., Schulin, R., Smidt, G.R. and Van der Zee, S.E., 1991. Chemical time bombs: predicting the unpredictable. Environment: Science and policy for sustainable development, 33(4), pp.4-30.

Bellin, A., Rinaldo, A., Bosma, W.J.P., van der Zee, S.E. and Rubin, Y., 1993. Linear equilibrium adsorbing solute transport in physically and chemically heterogeneous porous formations: 1. Analytical solutions. Water resources research, 29(12), pp.4019-4030.

Temminghoff, E.J., Van der Zee, S.E. and de Haan, F.A., 1997. Copper mobility in a copper-contaminated sandy soil as affected by pH and solid and dissolved organic matter. Environmental Science & Technology, 31(4), pp.1109-1115.

Vink, J.P. and Van der Zee, S.E., 1997. Pesticide biotransformation in surface waters: multivariate analyses of environmental factors at field sites. Water Research, 31(11), pp.2858-2868.

Acharya, R.C., van der Zee, S.E. and Leijnse, A., 2004. Porosity–permeability properties generated with a new 2-parameter 3D hydraulic pore-network model for consolidated and unconsolidated porous media. Advances in water resources, 27(7), pp.707-723.

Júnior, R.P.S., Smelt, J.H., Boesten, J.J., Hendriks, R.F. and van der Zee, S.E., 2004. Preferential flow of bromide, bentazon, and imidacloprid in a Dutch clay soil. Journal of Environmental Quality, 33(4), pp.1473-1486.

Gao, X., Zou, C., Zhang, F., van der Zee, S.E. and Hoffland, E., 2005. Tolerance to zinc deficiency in rice correlates with zinc uptake and translocation. Plant and soil, 278(1), pp.253-261.

Schröder, T.J., Hiemstra, T., Vink, J.P. and van der Zee, S.E., 2005. Modeling of the Solid− Solution Partitioning of Heavy Metals and Arsenic in Embanked Flood Plain Soils of the Rivers Rhine and Meuse. Environmental science & technology, 39(18), pp.7176-7184.

Vervoort, R.W. and van der Zee, S.E., 2008. Simulating the effect of capillary flux on the soil water balance in a stochastic ecohydrological framework. Water Resources Research, 44(8).

Rode, M., Arhonditsis, G., Balin, D., Kebede, T., Krysanova, V., Van Griensven, A. and Van der Zee, S.E., 2010. New challenges in integrated water quality modelling. Hydrological processes, 24(24), pp.3447-3461.

Appels, W.M., Bogaart, P.W. and van der Zee, S.E., 2011. Influence of spatial variations of microtopography and infiltration on surface runoff and field scale hydrological connectivity. Advances in Water Resources, 34(2), pp.303-313.

Bouksila, F., Bahri, A., Berndtsson, R., Persson, M., Rozema, J. and Van der Zee, S.E., 2013. Assessment of soil salinization risks under irrigation with brackish water in semiarid Tunisia. Environmental and experimental botany, 92, pp.176-185.

Benettin, P., Van Der Velde, Y., Van Der Zee, S.E., Rinaldo, A. and Botter, G., 2013. Chloride circulation in a lowland catchment and the formulation of transport by travel time distributions. Water Resources Research, 49(8), pp.4619-4632.

Nijp, J.J., Limpens, J., Metselaar, K., van der Zee, S.E., Berendse, F. and Robroek, B.J., 2014. Can frequent precipitation moderate the impact of drought on peatmoss carbon uptake in northern peatlands?. New Phytologist, 203(1), pp.70-80.

Duffner, A., Weng, L., Hoffland, E. and Van Der Zee, S.E., 2014. Multi-surface modeling to predict free zinc ion concentrations in low-zinc soils. Environmental science & technology, 48(10), pp.5700-5708.

Geissen, V., Mol, H., Klumpp, E., Umlauf, G., Nadal, M., Van der Ploeg, M., Van de Zee, S.E. and Ritsema, C.J., 2015. Emerging pollutants in the environment: a challenge for water resource management. International soil and water conservation research, 3(1), pp.57-65.

Nijp, J.J., Limpens, J., Metselaar, K., Peichl, M., Nilsson, M.B., van der Zee, S.E. and Berendse, F., 2015. Rain events decrease boreal peatland net CO 2 uptake through reduced light availability. Global Change Biology, 21(6), pp.2309-2320.

Appels, W.M., Bogaart, P.W. and van der Zee, S.E., 2016. Surface runoff in flat terrain: How field topography and runoff generating processes control hydrological connectivity. Journal of Hydrology, 534, pp.493-504.

Arabyarmohammadi, H., Darban, A.K., Abdollahy, M., Yong, R., Ayati, B., Zirakjou, A. and van der Zee, S.E., 2018. Utilization of a novel chitosan/clay/biochar nanobiocomposite for immobilization of heavy metals in acid soil environment. Journal of Polymers and the Environment, 26(5), pp.2107-2119.

America, I., Zhang, C., Werner, A.D. and van der Zee, S.E., 2020. Evaporation and salt accumulation effects on riparian freshwater lenses. Water Resources Research, 56(12), p.e2019WR026380.


van der Ploeg, M., de Jong van Lier, Q. and Flury, M., 2022. In Memoriam: Sjoerd EATM van der Zee, Vadose Zone Journal, 21(6), e20230