Research activities and interests

The Hydrology Research Lab focusses on three main areas of research, which seem to always be somewhat intertwined within all projects. Within the Faculty I work closely with Dr. Tom Bishop and Dr. Floris van Ogtrop and our research interests therefore sometimes overlap :

  • Interactions between groundwater and surface water: This area is key to our better understanding of rivers, dryland salinity, impacts of rainwater harvesting and vegetation water use.
  • River flow processes: This the hydrological bread and butter, i.e. prediction of future flows, impact of extractions of surface and groundwater on river flows, modelling of flood spreading, and catchment scale modelling of rivers using SWAT.
  • Stochastic and analytical modelling: This aims at finding new simplified ways of describing hydrological processes using analytical descriptions. This currently concentrates on ecohydrological modelling, but I am also interested in the description of hillslope processes and flood modelling.
research group in 2010

In the picture from left to right: Dawit, Willem, Richard, Joe, Floris, Sarah and Chun at lunch at the local Vietnamese restaurant

PhD students and visitors

  • Dawit Berhane:Dawit is working on developing several tools to assess transmission losses in rivers. These tools are both experimental and modelling tools and we are focussing on two smaller rivers near Tamworth. Dawit's project is supported in a major way by the NSW Department of Water and Energy and in part by the Cotton Catchment Community CRC.
  • Sarah Bennett:Sarah has commenced in 2008 and is working on a stochastic modelling technique to create a timeseries of spatial recharge fields as input into the MODFLOW model for the Coxs' Creek area. This project cooperates with several other partners and is funded by the Cotton Catchment Community CRC.
  • Chun Liang: Chun has commenced in 2009 and she is working on the very important topic of modelling land surface atmosphere interaction. This is particularly topical in relation to climate change and landuse change effects. Her PhD currently has the broad title of “Can planting more trees make it rain”. However, we are currently defining the exact area of research that she will be working on within this broader topic.
  • Joseph Henry:Joe also commenced in 2009 on a ARC Linkage project cooperating with ACTEW and which I hold together with Prof. Mark Adams. This project focuses on the variation in evapotranspiration (ET) across the landscape in forested catchments and how this relates to water yields. Joe and I will focus on the the measurements and modelling of the hydrology, while Prof. Adams group will concentrate on measuring ET.
  • Richard Muita:Richard commenced his PhD in 2010. We are working on developing new forecasting tools for seasonal rainfall and drought. Our initial work concentrates on gap filling in climatological timeseries and identifying break points in climatological timeseries using GAMLSS.
  • Derek Yates:Derek commenced his PhD in 2010. We are working on the collection and analysis of historical on-farm and research project rainfall data. This is part of a linkage project we have with GrainGrowers. You can find more information on this project on the GrainGrowers project website.
  • Sanaa Issa:Sanaa commenced her PhD in 2009 with Dr. Dhia al Bakri. Upon his retirement, I have been lucky to work with Sanaa. We are working with DECCW on the understanding of dryland salinity, or the risk of salinity in South West Sydney, near Camden. As part of the project we are installing piezometers and will be building a hydrogeological model of the area using MODFLOW.
  • Sarah Taylor:Sarah commenced her Masters in 2011. We are working with Sanaa and with DECCW on the understanding of dryland salinity, or the risk of salinity in South West Sydney, near Camden. Sarah's part of the project focuses on developing an understanding of the hyrdogeochemical part of the story and finding age and origin of the groundwaters.
  • Maryam Montazerolghaem:Maryam commenced her PhD in 2011 and works on the same project as Derek. Maryam's part of the project is related to using the new and detailed data to develop novel seasonal forecasts of rainfall and temperature in graingrowing areas. We are working with Dr. Budiman Minasny to develop new algorithms for efficient processing of large datasets.
  • I am further the associate supervisor for 4 more students including 2 international (Wageningen University). The Hydrology Research Lab also hosts several visitors each year. Earlier this year we hosted researchers from Mexico. Ms Cathelijne Stoof, a PhD student from Wageningen University, will also be working with us on the hydrology related to burnt areas after bush fires. Last year we hosted Ms Manika Gupta a PhD student from IIT Delhi on an Endeavour exchange scholarship working on pesticide transport. In addition we had short visits from Dr. Ryan Teuling from ETH Zurich and Dr. Barry Croke from ANU.

Past PhD students

Chris Vanags Chris completed his PhD in early 2007. His PhD was on the hydrological and geophysical characterisation of palaeochannels in Northern NSW. This was a challenging topic as we found out. Chris currently works at Vanderbilt University in Kentucky.
Claire Glendenning: Claire completed her PhD at the end of 2009. Claire investigated the catchment scale impact of rainwater harvesting in the Arvari catchment in Rajasthan, India. This project cooperated with a local NGO: TBS. Claire measured the response in groundwater levels and stream flow at selected locations in the catchment. This information was used to develop a basic model of the catchment and to investigate different scenarios and their impact on the catchment resilience. Claire is now back in India and working with IFPRI.
Floris van Ogtrop: Floris completed his PhD at the end of 2009. Floris investigated how we might make predictions of streamflow and flooding in a large semi-arid river up to 6 month ahead. If we have this knowledge we might be able to better assess the sharing of water between human needs and environmental needs. Floris used stochastic modelling tools coupled with SOI signals. Floris project was partly supported by the Cotton Catchment Community CRC. Floris is currently an associate Lecturer Stochastic Hydrology in the Faculty and is involved in much of the research in the Hydrology Research Lab. He also is the associate supervisor for Chun and Richard and sideways involved with Joe. Floris can be reached on floris.vanogtrop[at]