Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Prof. Christopher Soulsby

Research interests:

Runoff processes, streamflow generation and catchment biogeochemistry

Use of isotopic and geochemical tracers in identifying hydrological pathways, water sources, residence times and biogeochemical controls on stream chemistry.

Linkages between hillslope hydrology and streamflow generation.

Integrating the results of tracer studies in hydrological models.

Upscaling flow path understanding and landscape controls in mesoscale catchments

Groundwater – surface water interactions

Groundwater-surface water interactions in upland environments.

Linkages between hillslope hydrology and groundwater – surface water exchange.

Hyporheic studies: influence of groundwater on the chemistry and ecology of the hyporheic zone.

Groundwater-surface water interactions in alluvial floodplains.

Hydroecology of rivers and wetlands

Interactions between flow variability, channel morphology, instream hydraulics and freshwater ecosystems; particularly with respect to salmonids and macroinvertebrates.

Impacts of river regulation on aquatic ecosystems and the development of environmental flow regimes.

Hydrology and conservation management of wetlands

Career history:

Fellow of the American Geophysical Union; since 2013

2010-2014: Head of School of Geosciences

2008: Founding member and Director of the Northern Rivers Institute, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen

2005 DSc, University of Aberdeen, School of Geosciences “Hydrological pathways, biogeochemical interactions and ecological responses in catchment systems: towards a scientific basis for sustainable management”

1999 Professor of Hydrology, School of Geoscience, University of Aberdeen.

1997-99 Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Aberdeen.

1993-97 Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Aberdeen.

1991-93 Hydrologist, Environment Agency, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

1991 Research Fellow in Hydrology, University of Wales, (Bangor).

1990-91 Lecturer, Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Plymouth.

1987-90 PhD, University of Wales, University College, Swansea: PhD in Hydrology, Thesis (1991) “Hydrological pathways, aluminium mobilization and streamwater acidity in an afforested catchment in upland Wales.” 380pp.

Active research projects:

Research Projects (Include)

Streamflow generation in catchment systems

Examination of mechanisms of streamflow generation in different types of catchments at contrasting scales is an ongoing research theme. Our particular interests are the flow paths that water takes through catchments, the length of time taken to reach river channels and the biogeochemical processes that it is subjected to. We integrate insights from field experiments and modelling studies in our work.

Integrating tracers and modelling in catchment hydrology

Building from work in the Allt a’ Mharcaidh catchment in the western Cairngorms, we have strong interests in integrating the findings of tracer studies in catchment modelling. This ranges from simple rainfall runoff models to semi-distrbuted catchments.

Groundwater – surface water interactions in upland catchments

We have a long standing interest in the role of groundwater in influencing the hydrology, chemistry and ecology of upland streams and rivers. This mostly involves the examination of shallow groundwater systems in drifts and fractured bedrock and has used both tracers and hydrometric approaches to increase insights into the complex processes involved.

Hydroecology of the hyporheic zone

The physical, chemical and ecological significance of the hyporheic zone is being investigated in a number of streams to ascertain; (a) spatial variation in groundwater inputs into stream channels, (b) the effects on streamwater chemistry and (c) the consequences for aquatic organisms.

Habitat hydraulics and thermal regimes in salmon spawning rivers

The influence of in-stream hydraulics on salmon habitats is being investigated in relation to spawning activities and the provision of food to juvenile fish. This work also heavily involves Dr’s Chris Gibbins and Doerthe Tetzlaff . In addition to hydraulic characterization of different habitats by field monitoring, advanced numerical modelling techniques are being explored in conjunction with Dr’s Iain McEwan and Dubravka Pokrajac in the Department of Engineering at the University of Aberdeen.

Management of wetlands

Conservation objectives in wetlands ranging from lowland raised bogs in Scotland to seasonal flood plain wetlands in Africa, often involve hydrological assessment for rehabilitation. This reflects the impact of activities such as drainage and deforestation which have affected former hydrological regimes. We have carried out extensive research in Scotland on lowland raised bogs such as Moine Mhor in Argyll.

Recent publications:

Peralta-Tapia, A., Soulsby, C., Tetzlaff, D., Sponseller, R., Bishop, K. & Laudon, H. ‘Hydroclimatic influences on non-stationary transit time distributions in a boreal headwater catchment’. Journal of Hydrology.

Blumstock, M., Tetzlaff, D., Dick, J., Nuetzmann, G. & Soulsby, C. (in press). ‘Spatial organisation of groundwater dynamics and streamflow response from different hydropedological units in a montane catchment’. Hydrological Processes.

Soulsby, C., Birkel, C., Geris, J. & Tetzlaff, D. (2015). ‘The isotope hydrology of a large river system regulated for hydropower’. River Research and Applications, vol 31, no. 3, pp. 335-349.

Geris, J., Tetzlaff, D., Seibert, J., Vis, M. & Soulsby, C. (2015). ‘Conceptual modelling to assess hydrological impacts and evaluate environmental flow scenarios in montane river systems regulated for hydropower’. River Research and Applications, vol 31, no. 9, pp. 1066-1081.

Geris, J., Tetzlaff, D., McDonnell, JJ. & Soulsby, C. (2015). ‘The relative role of soil type and tree cover on water storage and transmission in northern headwater catchments’. Hydrological Processes, vol 29, no. 7, pp. 1844-1860.

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