Northern Rivers Institute

Northern Rivers Institute

The Northern Rivers Institute (NRI) is a centre of research excellence in environmental hydrology which delivers internationally leading catchment science to help underpin sustainable water management. We are located in the School of Geosciences at the University of Aberdeen and our network of monitoring and experimental field sites spreads over the whole of Scotland. In addition, we also conduct experimental field investigations at sites in Zambia,  Spain, the USA and New Zealand. The focus of the Institute is developing interdisciplinary approaches to catchment science. We envision catchments as ecosystems which we have to better understand to inform policy making with regards to climate impacts, land use, disturbance and natural resources management. Our research is aimed at providing answers to the following questions:

  • What is the variability in hydrological functioning at the many different space and time scales over which catchments operate?
  • How should that scale-dependent variability be assessed?
  • What are the potential implications for short- and long-term predictions of catchment behaviour?

We believe that the way to answer these questions is through the combined use of field and modelling approaches. Our group has particular expertise in using environmental tracers such as isotopic and geochemical tracers and our group has pioneered internationally leading work in characterising the transit times of water in upland catchments. Our work in multiple catchments varying in size and complexity focuses on the intertwined processes that control the movement, occurrence, and quality of water in the landscape. Instream hydro-ecological dynamics are also investigated as we are interested in the interaction between physical and biological processes in catchments and river systems. These insights into small-scale and large-scale processes are later used to inform the development and testing hydrological models.


PhD Studentships


We always welcome applications from well qualified, motivated candidates for a PhD in our Group. The Northern Rivers Institute seeks applicants with interest and experience in one or more of our main research areas (i.e. catchment hydrology, groundwater / surface water interactions; hydroecology). For further information about research activities in our group browse these web pages. If you are interested and for further queries, please contact Professor Chris Soulsby, email: