Human activity has become a geologic-scale force affecting all corners of our planet. This force manifests itself in a changing water cycle with significant implications for society and our ecosystem. We experience changing hydrologic extremes such as floods and droughts under a changing climate, our water quality is declining due to our efforts to feed and house a growing population, and conflict is growing over a dwindling freshwater resource with new challenges for water management.
The University of Bristol offers world leading research, training and innovation in hydrology, biogeochemistry and water resources. Our aim is to transform the evidence base that environmental decision making in a changing and deeply uncertain world is based on.
To achieve this aim we build cutting edge hydrologic models from local to global scales, we monitor the environment at unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution, and we link deep process knowledge with the analysis of human behavior to gain new insights into the coupled socio-hydrological system.
The University of Bristol is a global scientific leader in hydrology, biogeochemistry and water resources management research with local to global impact. Key research strengths are:
- Modelling the water environment in an uncertain and changing world.
- Monitoring the water environment using novel sensors.
- Assessing the impact of change to support robust decision-making.
Water research is inherently interdisciplinary and much of this work is done by bringing together engineers, physical and social scientists from across the University of Bristol.
Funding and stakeholders
Our research is supported by a wide portfolio of mainly NERC, EPSRC and EU funded projects. Projects include large interdisciplinary consortium grants as well as individual fellowships. The University of Bristol is one of four founding members of the GW4 Water Security Alliance (WSA). The WSA brings together academics from the four GW4 institutions, together with stakeholders, with a common vision of addressing the impact of global change on water to benefit people and ecosystems.
In 2017, the Academic Ranking of World Universities listed the University of Bristol as number 11 in the area of Water Resources globally, which makes us the highest ranked UK University and places us in the top 4 in Europe. On an individual basis, over the last five years members of the water theme have received a large number of awards and recognitions, including AGU fellow, Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Awards, Friedrich Willhelm Bessel Award of the Humboldt Foundation and the EGU Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Early Career Scientists.
We host two Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT), the EPSRC funded Water Informatics in Science and Engineering (WISE) CDT, and the NERC funded CDT in freshwater biosciences and sustainability (FRESH).
Further postgraduate education is supported by a range of 1-year Master’s programs, including the Water and Environmental Management (WEM) course in Civil Engineering.
As temperatures rise, water shortages possible in cold regions
More than a sixth of the world’s population – over one billion people – rely on meltwater emanating from snow and ice for their main water supply.
Predicting the risk of environment-driven disease in a changing world
Water-based diseases are one of the biggest threats to humans and animals alike. As global temperatures rise, extreme weather becomes the new norm, and the environment is altered to meet the demands of an increasing population, disease patterns are increasingly changing, with significant implications for health.
Study reveals how rapid urbanisation alters water quality
By 2050, nearly 70 per cent of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas, placing a huge strain on natural resources and infrastructure.
Bridging the gap between research and practice in water resource management
As the world population increases, there is a growing need to channel finite water resources for everything from agricultural irrigation and household supply, to flood mitigation and hydropower.
Improving how we measure and respond to rainfall
The ability to accurately measure the quantity and locations of rainfall is vital for water management processes to operate effectively. This is especially true in urban areas where the design and operation of storm sewer systems are highly sensitive to rainfall.
Postgraduate opportunities in water research
Contact the water research theme leads
Professor Thorsten Wagener from the Water Engineering Group and Professor Jim Freer from the Hydrology group lead the Water research community at the University of Bristol. Please contact Thorsten Wagener for information about Water research at the Cabot Institute.
Sign up to our water mailing list
If you are a member of academic staff or student at the University of Bristol working in the area of Water research, you can sign up to our water list to stay up to date with all water related opportunities, funding and events. Email email@example.com and ask to be added to the cabot-water email list.