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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Professor Paul Whitehead 

Visiting Professor

Professor Paul Whitehead's photo

Professor Paul Whitehead is a Visiting Professor for Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Southampton.

Paul Whitehead is Professor of Water Science at Geography and Environmental Science in Southampton and Director of the NERC Macronutrients Cycles Programme. He has a PhD in Dynamic Analysis of Water Resource Systems (Cambridge) and an MSc in Control and Systems Theory (Manchester). Prior to joining the Geography and Environmental Science in 2016, Paul was (and remains) a Visiting Professor in Oxford. Previously, Paul worked at the University of Reading as Professor and Director of the Aquatic Environments Research Centre. He was also Head of the Environmental Hydrology Division of CEH in Wallingford. His research interests have focused on dynamic behaviour of river, lakes, wetlands and catchments and the interactions between hydrology, water quality and ecology. He has developed the INCA suite of dynamic models which have been applied widely across the world in many countries and in all continents. His research has been funded by NERC, EPSRC, ESRC, BBSRC, the UK Government (DEFRA, DTI, DFID), the UK Environment Agency, Natural England, the EU in 6 framework research programmes from 1982 to the present, Water companies and other industrial partners. He also contributes to the MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management.

Professor Whitehead has served on several senior NERC committees such as the Thematic Programme Planning committees for the River Ecology Programme (NERC £8 million), Pollution Pathways Programme (NERC £8million), Land Use Research Programme (NERC £12 million), Joint NERC/AFRC Agricultural Pollution Programme (£9 million), NERC LOIS Programme (£36 million) and Environmental Diagnostics (NERC £6million). He has also been an environmental research advisor to the EU, European Governments, World Bank and UNESCO. He has also worked in Nepal, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Ghana, China, Taiwan, Brazil, Australia and the USA. He has published widely with over 200 papers in the refereed literature (H index 35, 5350 Citations), as well as being guest speaker at a wide range of conferences and meetings.

Research interests

Paul's research is focused on the interplay between environmental management of major problems such as climate change and pollution control and the development and application of new mathematical techniques for modelling environmental systems in the past, the present and into the future. He is interested in developing new models that explore the dynamical interactions between hydrology, water chemistry and ecology.

Water Quality and Ecosystems Modelling

Predicting the behaviour of water quality and ecosystems in rivers, lakes and wetlands is a crucial element of modern environmental management. Water resources and ecosystem health are key issues for EU and Government Policy especially to address Directives such as the Water Framework Directive and to assess the potential impacts of climate change. Paul was on the executive committee of the Euro-limpacs Project which was Europe's largest research project addressing the impacts of climate change on river, lake and wetland systems across Europe. As part of the project Paul has been developing a new range of models for modelling river catchments to simulate the behaviour of water flow and quality, as well as the behaviour of ecological parameters such as biomass of macrophytes, epiphytes and phytoplankton in streams. These models have been applied widely across Europe and provide a powerful set of tools for evaluating processes controlling water quality and ecosystems behaviour.

Environmental Management across the World: distant past to the future

Providing a potable source of water for peoples across the world is a crucial goal for sustainable development. Without a sound supply of high quality water people’s lives are blighted and most means of expanding economic and personal wellbeing are severely limited. Paul's research aims to utilise his knowledge and expertise to work towards sustainable management in many countries around the world. Past projects have included studies in Jordon, Nepal, China and Brazil to assess man-made and natural pollution and to determine the best means to minimise problems and maximise the availability of water to communities. There are significant lessons to learn from the past and the application of modern hydrological and modelling techniques to evaluate past civilisations is a fascinating area of research. Paul has been involved in a key Leverhulme Project on water life and civilisation and this has recently involved studies in Jordan to assess the hydrology and populations levels of the ancient city of Jawa and a study of the Dead Sea to evaluate past, present and potential future water levels.

Research group

Earth Surface Dynamics

Postgraduate teaching for MSc and DPhil students

Professor Paul Whitehead
Building 44 University of Southampton University Road Southampton SO17 1BJ

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