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Professor Thorsten Wagener

Professor Thorsten Wagener

Professor Thorsten Wagener
BSc(Siegen), MSc(Delft), PhD(Imperial)

Professor of Water and Environmental Engineering

Area of research

Analysis of Hydrologic Systems

Office 1.51
Queen's Building,
University Walk, Clifton BS8 1TR
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 331 5737


Hydrology analyses the movement and storage of water in complex environmental systems in which humans are important actors. A systems approach is needed to adequately understand this dynamic physical and socio-economic system with the goal to provide water security for people and nature. My group develops and applies systems methods to advance hydrologic theory, and to build and evaluate predictive models for sustainable water management. Particular current interests are predictions in ungauged basins, uncertainty and sensitivity analysis, catchment classification, and the integrated assessment of change impacts.

A basic assumption in all my efforts is that education and research are inherently related and cannot be treated separately. Current educational interests include the development of freely available teaching material for hydrologists worldwide.

I am always looking for highly motivated graduate students and postdocs to join my group. If any of the above topics (both research and education) interest you, then please contact me.


Thorsten Wagener is the Professor of Water and Environmental Engineering at the University of Bristol. He leads the water and environmental research group, he is the director of the water and environmental management research center and chairs the University of Bristol water theme within the Cabot Institute. Before joining the University of Bristol, Prof. Wagener held academic positions at the Pennsylvania State University and was a DAAD postdoctoral fellow at the University of Arizona in the USA. He holds a PhD from Imperial College London (University of London), and Ir degree (MS equivalent) from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and a Dip.-Ing. FH (BS equivalent) from the University of Siegen in Germany.

Prof. Wagener has received a range of awards for his research contributions including the Walter L. Huber Engineering Research Prize of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the biennial medal and an early career research excellence prize from the International Environmental Modeling and Software Society (IEMSS), the Education and Public Service in Water Resources Award of Universities Council On Water Research (UCOWR), a research fellowship for experienced researchers and a postdoctoral fellowship from the German academic exchange service (DAAD), an early career award from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) STAR program, and the Unwin prize as the best PhD student in civil and environmental engineering of Imperial College London. Many of his students and postdocs have also won awards for joint work or during their training. Awards include an EPA fellowship, several outstanding student paper awards of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), a UCOWR dissertation award, an IEMSS early career research excellence award and the Arne Richter Outstanding Young Scientist of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

Prof. Wagener’s main research contributions are in the areas of hydrologic predictions in ungauged basins, in the diagnostic evaluation of and the uncertainty in environmental models, and in the assessment of change impacts on water resources. Contributions include a shift from parameter regionalization to the regionalization of hydrologic signature as constraints for predictions in ungauged basins, the development and application of sensitivity analysis algorithms for diagnostic model evaluation, and the assessment of uncertainty in integrated assessment modeling.

Prof. Wagener has been Principal Investigator (PI) or co-PI on US and UK projects with total budgets exceeding £20M. Currently he is the PI on the NERC funded Consortium on Risk in the Environment: Diagnostics, Integration, Benchmarking, Learning and Elicitation (CREDIBLE) project in which homogenizes uncertainty assessment across natural hazards. He is a co-director of the EPSRC funded Water Informatics: Science and Engineering (WISE) Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT). Prof. Wagener is the local lead of the European FP7-ENV-2013 Sharing Water-related Information to Tackle Changes in the Hydrosphere - for Operational Needs (SWITCH-ON) project. He is also co-PI on the NERC-funded Managing the Risks, Impacts and Uncertainties of droughts and water Scarcity (MARIUS) project. Previous funding in the US came from diverse sources including the National Science Foundation (NSF), EPA, USDA, NOAA and the Department of Energy (DOE).

Prof. Wagener has an extensive record of service to the hydrological community. He was a vice-president of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS), he was the inaugural chair of the early career award in the hydrological sciences division of AGU, an IAHS steering group member in the Predictions in Ungauged Basins (PUB) initiative, and a vice-president of the IAHS commission on the coupled land atmosphere system among other things. He is currently an associate editor of Hydrological Sciences Journal and Hydrological Processes, as well as an advising editor to the Journal of River Basin Management. Previously, he was an editor of Hydrology and Earth System Sciences and associate editor of Water Resources Research and Environmental Modeling & Software.  


  • Hydrology
  • Water resource management
  • Global change
  • Uncertainty and risk
  • Ecosystem services



Department of Civil Engineering

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Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system


Professor Wagener currently teaches 2 courses:

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