Doctoral Education unit in hydrological sciences

Research clusters

HYDRO-CSI is organised around four complementary clusters as presented in this section:

  • Cluster 1 – Innovative field-deployable instruments for high-frequency monitoring
  • Cluster 2 – New tracers and approaches for investigating hydrological processes
  • Cluster 3 – Remote sensing applied to hydrology
  • Cluster 4 – Hydrological forecasts and projections under global change


Cluster 1: Innovative field-deployable instruments for high-frequency monitoring

1.1 PhD project of Carol Tamez Melendez

Topic: Isotope hydrology

Project objectives: Carol Tamez-Melendez has defined four main objectives in her research proposal. First, she aims at characterizing the seasonality of floods and their associated hydro-meteorological characteristics in the Sûre River basin (L). Second, she will characterize (extreme) rainfall-runoff events across a wide range of physiographic conditions. Third, she will identify and characterize precipitation-runoff transformation processes by using isotope and/or hydro-geochemical tracers. Forth, she will use high-frequency isotope signals of O and H in precipitation and streamwater for investigation rainfall-runoff transformation during convective events in the Ernz Blanche River basin (Luxembourg).

1.2 PhD project of Enrico Bonanno

Topic: In-stream hydrology

Project objectives: Pollutant transport, nutrient cycling and ecological behaviour of a riverine system are strongly influenced by how the groundwater exchanges with the stream. Here, we investigate groundwater and stream interactions in order to characterize the physical processes that control the water/solute exchange and their variability over time.

1.3 PhD project of Dhruv Sehgal

Topic: Sediment fingerprinting

Project objectives: Transport of suspended sediments (SS) within a river is a spatially and temporally dynamic process, which requires high frequency monitoring to capture SS dynamics and quantify SS fluxes. However, current optical methods to quantify SS fluxes are highly influenced by composition, size and concentration of SS. Here, we propose to use in-situ sensors to measure the characteristics of SS and ultimately improve flux estimations.

> Download the PDF document (609KB) presenting all PhD projects of Cluster 1.


Cluster 2: New tracers and approaches for investigating hydrological processes

2.1 PhD project of Perrine Florent

Topic: Environmental virology

Project objectives: In hydrology and virology, the fate of bacteriophages within the pedosphere remains poorly known. Here we propose to explore their potential for exploring the hydrological systems and to improve our knowledge on bacteriophages communities in soils. The main objective of this PhD project is to characterise the population of bacteriophages in soils and to validate their use as hydrological tracers over short spatial and temporal scales.

2.2 PhD project of Jasper Foets

Topic: Eco-hydrology and tracer hydrology

Project objectives: In this PhD, we first focus on an in-depth investigation on the ecology of terrestrial diatoms. More specifically, we try to link the occurrence of diatoms to hydroclimatological and environmental parameters and use the newly acquired knowledge to overcome some of the limitations linked to the use of diatoms as hydrological tracers. Secondly, we will investigate a more effective method for sampling diatoms during rainfall events.

2.3 PhD project of Alessandro Montemagno

Topic: Eco-hydrology & bio-geochemistry

Project objectives: Here, we aim at developing a new and more accurate method to trace water flows in the transpiration pathways (e.g. from soil solutions or groundwater to the tree canopy) by using a combination of O-H stable isotopes and Rare Earth Elements (REE - i.e. the Lanthanides series and the Yttrium).

> Download the PDF document (579KB) presenting all PhD projects of Cluster 2.


Cluster 3: Remote sensing applied to hydrology

3.1 PhD project of Anne Hoek van Dijke

Topic: Remote sensing and eco-hydrological modelling

Project objectives:
1. Study how soil moisture and remote sensing derived catchment scale variability in vegetation functional traits control transpiration in the Attert River basin (L);
2. Multiscale mapping of evapotranspiration by integrating land surface temperature from airborne acquisition, Landsat and MODIS sensors into a surface energy balance model to study the controlling factors of evapotranspiration at different scales;
3. Identify the effect of vegetation functional traits on evapotranspiration and evapotranspiration partitioning across a range of climatic conditions;
4. Investigate the effects of deforestation on the local water balance and climate, via the controlling effects of leaf area index on the latent heat flux.

3.2 PhD project of Jie Zhao

Topic: Remote sensing

Project objectives: Through her PhD project, Jie Zhao aims at developing an algorithm for producing a record of binary flood maps at global scale with high accuracy from Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data. Special emphasis is put on characterizing the uncertainties of the flood maps and to identify areas where SAR is not sensitive (e.g. densely vegetated areas or shadow areas).

3.3 PhD project of Tessa Van Hateren

Topic: Hydrology-related fluxes & microwave measurements

Project objectives: The soil water balance equation (Equation (1)) describes the water balance in any soil profile. It is based on the conservation of mass, indicating that all inputs and outputs in a soil profile are balanced on long time scales. Knowledge on the size of all the terms in the soil water balance equation leads to a deep understanding of the hydrological processes playing a role in the local soil profile. However, measuring each of the terms is not as straightforward as it may seem, due to e.g. spatial heterogeneity and temporal variation.

Storage change = precipitation – evapotranspiration – drainage – surface runoff (1)

In this PhD project, different state-of-the-art microwave measurement techniques will be combined to estimate the different terms of the soil water balance equation.

> Download the PDF document (717KB) presenting all PhD projects of Cluster 3.


Cluster 4: Hydrological forecasts and projections under global change

4.1 PhD project of Concetta Di Mauro

Topic: Hydraulic modelling

Project objectives: The main goal of Concetta di Mauro’s PhD project is to improve flood forecasts in terms of water depth, streamflow and flood extent. The improvement of flood predictions is intended to be achieved with the enhancement of the data assimilation framework developed by Hostache et al. (2018). The methodology consists in the assimilation of flood maps derived from satellite observations into flood forecasting models.

4.2 PhD project of NN (University of Luxembourg)

Topic: Hydrological modelling / Gravimetry 

4.3 PhD project of Nicolaus Van Zweel

Topic: Hydro-geochemical modelling

4.4 PhD project of Judith Meyer

Topic: Flashflood mechanistics and modelling

Project objectives: In a first step, the pattern of the local flash flood events is going be analysed in a meta-analysis, including events that occurred in the neighbouring countries. Based on data availability, analyses are going to be conducted to compare the atmospheric conditions during the event, discharge properties, pre-event soil moisture conditions, catchment properties, the spatial extent of the flooding and the timing within a year and over a longer time period. These analyses are likely to provide information, which may help to detect certain threshold values or trends in space and time. To gain better process understanding of the flash floods, a major approach is going to be the testing of different hydrological models and executing virtual experiments.

4.5 PhD project of Adnan Moussa

Topic: Isotope hydrology

Project objectives: The main objective of Adnan Moussa’s PhD is to determine the travel time distribution and SAS functions of different output fluxes (discharge, transpiration and evaporation) in the Weierbach catchment, using the ParFLOW-CLM model with different land covers and different atmospheric forcings. The calibration and evaluation of the model is to be done by comparing the fluxes and isotopic composition measured from the discharge, soil evaporation and tree water uptake.

> Download the PDF document (735KB) presenting all PhD projects of Cluster 4.

Research domains
  • Environment

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Dr habil. Laurent PFISTER
Dr habil. Laurent PFISTER
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