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Professor Paul Bates

Professor Paul Bates

Professor Paul Bates
CBE, B.Sc.(Soton), Ph.D.(Bristol)

Professor of Hydrology

Area of research

Flood risk and uncertainty

Office 1.3S
University Road,
Clifton, Bristol BS8 1SS
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 928 9108


Paul is a hydrologist by background, a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award holder. He has widespread research interests in risk, resilience, uncertainty, governance and decision-making in relation to natural hazards and global water issues. He is a double recipient of the Lloyd's of London Science of Risk prize and in 2015 he was awarded a 50th Anivversary Prize for Economic Impact by the UK's Natural Environment Research Council.  He has published over 200 papers in international peer-reviewed journals, and these were cited over 1700 times in 2018 according to the ISI Web of Knowledge. He currently has an ISI H-index of 61. For a full publication list see here.

Paul's main science contribution has been to improve the prediction of flood inundation through the development of new computer models, the use of data from new airborne, satellite and ground sensors and through the better characterization of risk and uncertainty.  For videos of Paul talking about his research see here and here.

He has held Visiting Scientist positions at Princeton University, Dept. of Civil Engineering, Laboratoire National d'Hydraulique, Paris, the EU Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

He also undertakes significant International collaboration, including work with the French National Space Agency (CNES), Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia in Brazil, as well as numerous universities in the US and Europe.


Paul obtained a BSc in Geography from Southampton University in 1989, and a PhD from the University of Bristol in 1992 working with Professor Malcolm Anderson.  His PhD research analysed finite element methods for modeling flood flows, a theme he continued during postdoctoral research funded by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the UK Natural Environment Research Council and the Laboratoire Saint Venant in Paris where he worked with Jean-Michel Hervouet.  In 1995 he was appointed to a Lectureship in Physical Geography at the University of Bristol. He was promoted to Reader in 2000, and full Professor in 2003.  From 2005 to 2013 he led the Hydrology Research Group in the School of Geographical Sciences, and from 2011 to 2013 was the innaugral Director of the Cabot Institute.  From 2013 to 2017 he was Head of the School of Geographical Sciences.


  • Hydraulic Modelling
  • Uncertainty
  • Risk
  • Remote Sensing
  • Model-data comparison
  • Natural Hazards
  • Resilience
  • Decision Making



School of Geographical Sciences

Research groups


Selected publications

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View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system


Professor Bates currently teaches 5 courses:

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