UNESCO Chair in Water Science (University of Birmingham)

Access to potable water is a key requirement for human health, prosperity and security. Yet billions of people worldwide are confronted with serious water-related challenges: from water scarcity, poor quality, lack of sanitation facilities, to water-related disasters such as floods and droughts.

Overall, it is estimated that ~80% of the world’s population lives in areas with high water security threats. Water scarcity is perhaps the most pervasive and fundamental of these challenges because availability and management of water resources impact on all types of societies from the most to the least developed.

Purpose/Objectives of the Chair/UNITWIN Network

The UNESCO Chair on Water Science (established at the University of Birmingham in November 2016) aims to develop a transformative approach to tackle such ‘wicked water problems’ – these are multifaceted, interconnected problems that are very difficult to solve due to lack of data and changing human needs amongst other reasons.

To meet the Chair’s aim, and so enable sustainable development of finite water resources, we require new ways of addressing and rethinking the grand challenges related to water in a changing environment: (1) quantifying the nature and extent of change, (2) explaining the causes of space-time patterns of change and (3) reducing uncertainty of predictions under change. Only by meeting these challenges in an integrated and synergistic way will a transformative approach to water science be achieved to benefit societies at risk from water scarcity as well as providing water for the environment.

One of the ways in which the Chair’s aim will be met is by making better use of new, more cost-efficient sensing technologies, and by harnessing the knowledge of local people as ‘citizen scientists’ and stakeholders. The Chair brings together researchers from a range of disciplines, policy makers and the public to raise awareness of water scarcity and global water-related issues.

Links to UN Sustainable Development Goals and Other Global Initiatives

The Chair’s activities map most directly onto UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. The ongoing and planned activities fall within the priorities and themes of UNESCO International Hydrology Programme’s eight phase, related to the overarching objective for “Equitable and sustainable development”. The Chair is aligned strongly with the International Association of Hydrological Sciences current scientific decade “Panta Rhei”, dedicated to research on change in hydrology and society.

Future Actions

The following actions will ensure visibility and deliver goal of the Chair : (1) inaugural “International Connected Water Societies Conference” held in Birmingham, UK, 2019; (2) international task force established to develop a concept for a global sensor network of hydrological variables, which can be implemented at the local level; (3) student and staff exchanges amongst partners located across our planet; and (4) dissemination of research of practical relevance to improve integrated, sustainable water resources and management.

Chairholder/Coordinator: Professor David Hannah

Address: Professor of Hydrology, School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT

Email: d.m.hannah@bham.ac.uk

Web page

david-hannah_birmingham_water-scienceDavid M. Hannah is Professor of Hydrology in the School of Geography, Earth &Environmental Sciences and Director of Research of the College of Life & Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham. He is recognised internationally for his pioneering work linking hydrology with climatology and ecology. He was honoured recently with the prestigious Tison Award (2014) from the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS).

David’s research is interdisciplinary, focusing on 3 complementary themes within hydroclimatology (interface between hydrology-climatology): (1) climate and river flow regimes; (2) hydro-climatological processes within alpine, Arctic, mountain and glacierized river basins; and (3) river energy budget and thermal dynamics. He has a crosscutting interest in ecohydrology/ hydroecology, specifically ecological response to hydro-climatological and physico-chemical habitat variability/ change. He also develops new methods for monitoring, analysing and modelling environmental dynamics at a range of space-time scales. David has made technological innovations in environmental sensing and helped shape the emerging citizen science agenda in hydrology and water resources. His research has significant blue skies and applied implications for understanding and responding to impacts of climate change/ variability on hydrological systems and riverine ecology, and the management/ conservation of freshwaters.

David is active in UNESCO’s International Hydrology Programme, UK Representative for the International Association of Hydrological Sciences, and Vice-President of the IAHS-International Commission for Surface Water. Beyond academia, he provides advice to Government, agencies, water industry and regulators.

Read more at:

Selected publications

Prudhomme C., Giuntoli. I., Robinson E.L., Clark D.B., Arnell A.W., Dankers R., Fekete B., Franssen W., Gerten D., Gosling S.N., Hagemann S., Hannah D.M., Kim H., Masaki Y., Satoh Y., Stacke T., Wada Y. and Wisser D. (2014), Hydrological droughts in the 21st century: hotspots and uncertainties from a global multi-model ensemble experiment, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 111 (9), 3262-3267 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1222473110

Van Loon A.F., Gleeson T., Clark J,. Van Dijk A.I.J.M, Stahl K., Hannaford J., Di Baldassarre G., Teuling A.J., Tallaksen L.M., Uijlenhoet R., Hannah D.M., Sheffield J., Svoboda M., Verbeiren B., Wagener T., Rangecroft S., Wanders N. and Van Lanen H.A.J. (2016), Drought in the Anthropocene, Nature Geosciences, 9, 89-91 DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2646

Hannah D.M. and Garner G. (2015), River water temperature in the United Kingdom: changes over the 20th century and possible changes over the 21st century, Progress in Physical Geography, 39, 68–92   DOI: 10.1177/0309133314550669

Giuntoli I., Vidal J.-P., Prudhomme C. and Hannah D.M. (2015), Future hydrological extremes: the uncertainty from multiple global climate and global hydrological models, Earth Systems Dynamics, 6, 267–285, DOI:10.5194/esd-6-267-2015

Khamis K., Hannah D.M., Hill M., Brown L.E., Castella E., and Milner A.M. (2014), Alpine aquatic ecosystem conservation policy in a changing climate, Environmental Science and Policy, 43, 39-55
DOI 10.1016/j.envsci.2013.10.004

Laizé C.L.R., Acreman M., Schneider C., Dunbar M., Houghton-Carr H., Flörke M. and Hannah D.M. (2014) Projected flow alteration and ecological risk for pan-European rivers, River Research and Applications, 30: 299–314 DOI:10.1002/rra.2645

Jackson F.L., Malcolm I.A. and Hannah D.M. (2016), A novel approach for the design of large scale river temperature monitoring networks, Hydrology Research, 47, 569-590 DOI: 10.2166/nh.2015.106

Kettridge N., Bradley C., Hannah D. M. and Krause S. (2016), Editorial: Challenging hydrological theory and practice, Hydrology Research, 47, 543-544 DOI: 10.2166/nh.2016.001

Buytaert W., Dewulf A., De Bièvre B., Clark J. and Hannah D.M. (2016), Citizen science for water resources management: toward polycentric monitoring and governance?, Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management – Invited Editorial, 142, Art.No. 01816002
DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)WR.1943-5452.0000641

Karpouzoglou T., Zulkafli Z., Grainger S., Dewulf A., Buytaert W. and Hannah D.M. (2016), Environmental Virtual Observatories (EVOs) in the Information Age: Prospects for improved knowledge co-creation and resilience building, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 18, 40-48   DOI: 10.1016/j.cosust.2015.07.015

McMillan H., Montanari A.., Cudennec C., Savenije H.H., Kreibich H., Krueger T., Liu J., Meija A., van Loon A., Aksoy H., Di Baldassarre G., Huang Y., Mazvimavi D., Rogger M., Sivakumar B., Bibikova T., Castellarin A., Chen Y., Finger D., Gelfan A., Hannah D, Hoekstra A., Li H., Maskey S., Mathevet T., Mijic A., Acuña A., Polo M., Rosales Sierra V., Smith P., Viglione A., Srinivasan V., Toth E., van Nooijen, R. and Xia J. (2016), Panta Rhei 2013-2015: Global perspectives on hydrology, society and change, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 61, 1174-1191 DOI:10.1080/02626667.2016.1159308

Schmadel N.M., Ward A.S., Kurz M.J., Fleckenstein J.H., Zarnetske J.P., Hannah D.M., Blume T., Vieweg M., Blaen P.J., Schmidt C., Knapp J., Klaar M.J., Romeijn P., Datry T., Keller T., Folegot S., Marruedo A. and Krause S. (2016), Transport timescales of stream solute tracers changing with discharge and reach length confound process interpretation, Water Resources Research, 52, 3227–3245   DOI: 10.1002/2015WR018062

Garner G., Malcolm I.A., Sadler J.P., Millar C.P. and Hannah D.M. (2015), Inter-annual variability in the effects of riparian woodland on micro-climate, energy exchanges and water temperature of an upland Scottish stream, Hydrological Processes, 29, 1080-1095 DOI:10.1002/hyp.10223

Garner G., Van Loon A.F., Prudhomme C. and Hannah D.M. (2015), Hydroclimatology of extreme riverflows, Freshwater Biology, 12, 2461-2476 DOI: 10.1111/fwb.12667

Giuntoli I., Villarini G., Prudhomme C., Mallakpour I. and Hannah D.M. (2015), Evaluation of global impact models’ ability to reproduce runoff characteristics over the central United States, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 18, 9138-9159 DOI: 10.1002/2015JD023401

Khamis K., Brown L.E., Hannah D.M. and Milner A.M. (2015), Experimental evidence that predator range expansion modifies alpine stream community structure, Freshwater Science, 34, 66-80
DOI: 10.1086/679484

Khamis K., Brown L.E., Milner A.M. and Hannah D.M. (2015), Heat exchange processes and thermal dynamics of a glacier-fed alpine stream, Hydrological Processes, 29, 3306–3317 DOI:10.1002/hyp.10433

Khamis K., Sorensen J.P.R., Bradley C., Hannah D.M., Lapworth D.J. and Stevens R. (2015), In-situ tryptophan-like fluorometers: assessing turbidity and temperature effects for freshwater applications, Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts, 17, 740-752 DOI: 10.1039/c5em00030k

Kingston D.G., Stagge J.H., Tallaksen L.M. and Hannah D.M. (2015), European-scale drought: understanding connections between atmospheric circulation and meteorological drought indices, Journal of Climate, 28, 505-516 DOI 10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00001.1

Lavers D.A., Hannah D.M. and Bradley C. (2015), Linking variations in groundwater level in southern England to large-scale atmospheric circulation, Journal of Hydrology, 523, 179–189
DOI: 1 0.1016/j.jhydrol.2015.01.06

Pinay G., Peiffer S. ,Krause S., Hannah D.M., Fleckenstein J., Sébilo M., Bishop K. and Hubert-Moy L. (2015), Upscaling nitrogen removal capacity from riparian zone to the landscape scale: A new framework, Ecosystems, 18, 1101-1120 DOI: 10.1007/s10021-015-9878-5

Royan A., Prudhomme C., Hannah D.M., Reynolds S.J., Nobel D.G. and Sadler J.P. (2015), Climate-induced changes in river flow regimes alter future bird distributions, Ecosphere, 6, Article 50
DOI: 10.1890/ES14-00245.1

Sahin S., Türkeş M, Wang S.H., Hannah D.M. and Eastwood W.J. (2015), Large-scale moisture flux characteristics of the Mediterranean basin and their relationships with drier and wetter climate conditions, Climate Dynamics, 45, 3381–3401 DOI: 10.1007/s00382-015-2545-x

Watts G., Battarbee R.W., Bloomfield J.P., Crossman J., Daccache A., Durance I., Elliot A., Garner G., Hannaford J., Hannah D.M., Hess T., Jackson C.R., Kay A.L., Kernan M., Knox J., Mackay J., Monteith D.T., Ormerod S., Rance J., Stuart M.E., Wade A.J., Wade S.D., Weatherhead K., Whitehead P.G. and Wilby R.L. (2015), Climate change and water in the UK – past changes and future prospects, Progress in Physical Geography, 39, 6-28 DOI: 10.1177/0309133314542957

Watts G., Hannah D.M. and Watkinson A. (2015), Introduction to the special issue on the impact of climate change on water in the UK, Progress in Physical Geography, 39, 3-5, DOI: 10.1177/0309133314546345

Blaen P.J., Milner A.M., Hannah D.M., Brittain J.E. and Brown L.E. (2014), Impact of changing hydrology on nutrient uptake in High Arctic rivers, River Research and Applications, 30, 1073-1083   DOI: 10.1002/rra.2706

Blaen P.J., Brown L.E., Hannah D.M. and Milner A.M. (2014), Environmental drivers of macroinvertebrate communities in High Arctic rivers (Svalbard), Freshwater Biology, 59, 378-391. DOI: 10.1111/fwb.12271

Blaen P.J., Hannah D.M., Brown L.E. and Milner A.M. (2014), Water source dynamics of high Arctic river basins, Hydrological Processes, 28, 3521–3538 DOI: 10.1002/hyp.9891

Buytaert W., Zulkafli Z., Grainger S., Acosta L., Bastiaensen J., de Bièvre B., Bhusal J., Chanie T., Clark J., Dewulf A., Hannah D.M., Hergarten C., Isaeva A., Karpouzoglou T., Pandey B., Paudel D., Sharma K., Steenhuis T., Tilahun S., Van Hecken G., and Zhumanova M. (2014), Citizen science in hydrology and water resources: opportunities for knowledge generation, ecosystem service management, and sustainable development, Frontiers in Earth Sciences: Hydrosphere, 2, Article26
DOI: 10.3389/feart.2014.0002

Emery S.B. and Hannah D.M. (2014), Managing and researching floods: sustainability, policy responses and the place of rural communities, Hydrological Processes – HPToday Invited Commentary, 28, 4984–4988 DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10258

Garner G., Hannah D.M., Sadler J.P. and Orr H.O. (2014), River temperature regimes of England and Wales: spatial patterns, inter-annual variability and climatic sensitivity, Hydrological Processes, 28, 5583–5598 DOI: 10.1002/hyp.9992

Garner G., Malcolm I.A., Sadler J.P. and Hannah D.M. (2014) What causes cooling water temperature gradients in forested stream reaches?, Hydrology and Earth Systems Science, 18, 5361–5376
DOI: 10.5194/hess-18-5361-2014

Hill-Clarvis M., Allan A. and Hannah D.M. (2014), Water, resilience and the law: from general concepts and governance design principles to actionable mechanisms, Environmental Science and Policy, 43, 98-110   DOI 10.1016/j.envsci.2013.10.005

Khamis K, Hannah D.M., Brown L.E., Tiberti R. and Milner A.M. (2014), The use of invertebrates as indicators of environmental change in alpine rivers and lakes, Science of the Total Environment, 493, 1242-1254 DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.02.126

Krause S., Freer J., Hannah D.M., Howden N.J.K., Wagener T. and Worrall F. (2014) Catchment Similarity Concepts for Understanding Dynamic Biogeochemical Behaviour of River Basins, Hydrological Processes – HPToday Invited Commentary, 28, 1554–1560 DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10093

Krause S., Klaar M., Hannah D.M., Mant J., Bridgeman J., Trimmer M. and Manning-Jones S. (2014), The potential of Large Woody Debris to alter biogeochemical processes and ecosystem services in lowland rivers, WIREs Water, 1, 263–275DOI 10.1002/wat2.1019

Royan A., Hannah D.M., Reynolds S.J., Nobel D.G. and Sadler J.P. (2014), River birds’ response to hydrological extremes: new vulnerability index and conservation implications, Biological Conservation, 177, 64–7310 DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2014.06.017