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Scaling hydrological models from continent to catchment


A major question in hydrology revolves around scaling, that is, how we translate model results from for example a continental scale to a finer catchment or local scale. This is particularly relevant in relation climate based research as the complexity of such models only allows computation at global or continental scales. In addition, from a water resource management point of view, we would like to compare how we manage country or continental or state based water resources, and how policy can be translated to the smaller scale. Models are required to run scenarios and develop policies. This project involves modelling the Australian continent, the Murray Darling Basin (or a large portion of this) and a range of catchments and developing predictive relationships to scale the outcomes from continent to catchment.


Associate Professor Willem Vervoort.

Research location

School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Program type



This project will deliver important understanding on the relevance of large scale model outcomes and policies based on this to smaller local catchments and locations. The project will be based on SWAT, which is an internationally recognised model. Data from the project will use satellite, satellite derived and publicly available data, and will involve running high performance computing using ARTEMIS. The project will have to opportunity to collaborate with world-renowned experts on SWAT in Texas and Belgium. In addition to developing scaling relationships, the project will drive major new development directions in SWAT to better represent hydrological process at all different scales.

Additional information

I am seeking a PhD candidate to work on this project in the area of biophysical and hydrological modelling. The ideal student would have a strong background in scripting languages, mathematics and computer modelling, or a willingness and ability to learn fast and a good understanding of hydrological science. Scholarships for domestic students are available from the Faculty of Science and the University.
International students would need to apply and obtain an International Postgraduate Award, Endeavour or similar scholarship that covers both University fees and living allowances.
HDR Inherent Requirements
In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2315

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