School of Engineering

Staff Profile

Dr James Bathurst

Reader Erosion & Sediment Transport



I became a  member of the University in 1992, having already worked at the University since 1985 as a seconded member of the Institute of Hydrology (now the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford). My research areas include the hydraulics and sediment transport characteristics of gravel-bed rivers, the development and application of the physically based river catchment model SHETRAN (including its component for soil erosion, landslide erosion and sediment transport) and the catchment-scale hydrological impacts of forests.

I am currently semi-retired.

Areas of expertiseForests and Floods; Gravel-bed Rivers; Physically-based Catchment Models

Roles and Responsibilities

Degree Programme Director for Newcastle component of the EU Erasmus  MSc in Hydroinformatics and Water Management (EuroAquae), School of Engineering (Civil Engineering).


Bachelor of Science (Aeronautics), First Class, University of London, 1973

Master of Science (Engineering Hydrology), University of London, 1974

Doctor of Philosophy (River Hydraulics), University of East Anglia, 1977

Harkness Fellow carrying out post-doctoral research at Colorado State University, USA, including a flume study of mountain river hydraulics and a study tour of USA centres for river and water resources research, 1977-1979

Churchill Fellow studying the impact of landslide erosion on sediment supply to mountain rivers, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Christchurch, New Zealand, 1990

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship to visit centres of excellence in landslide hazard research, 2000

Sabbatical at Universidad Austral de Chile, sponsored by Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica (CONICYT), Chile, 2013.

Previous Positions

1979-1985 Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Institute of Hydrology, Wallingford, Oxon (now the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford)

1985-1992 On secondment from the Institute of Hydrology to the NERC Water Resource Systems Research Unit, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Newcastle upon Tyne


Member: British Hydrological Society

Member: American Geophysical Union

Member: European Geosciences Union 

Fellow: Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management


English: mother tongue

French: speaking and reading - good; writing - basic/fair

Spanish: speaking and reading - fair; writing - basic

German: basic

Google scholar: Click here.


Research Interests


Since I started my career in the late 1970s, my research interests have moved over several areas. I began with the hydraulics and sediment transport characteristics of gravel-bed rivers, carrying out both flume and field studies. I have maintained this interest over the decades and continue to publish on the topic, including spatial scale dependencies in sediment yield. I was a co-founder of the International Gravel-bed Rivers Workshops which have been held every five years from 1980.

From the 1980s I worked on the development and application of physically based, interdisciplinary, river catchment models (especially SHETRAN) as a core capability for land use and climate change impact assessment. In particular I developed this capability for soil erosion and sediment transport, including landslide erosion and sediment yield. Many of the applications were carried out in European Commission-funded projects, including the flagship MEDALUS projects on Mediterranean desertification. I also led a major project to transfer the SHETRAN modelling technology to the Chilean National Forestry Corporation (CONAF).

More recently the modelling work has led onto research into the catchment-scale hydrological impacts of forests, especially the relationship between forest cover and the peak flood discharge for extreme rainfall events. I led a European Commission-funded project which examined this topic in terms of the scientific evidence, integrated management of forest and water resources and policy recommendations relevant to four countries in Latin America. During my sabbatical in Chile I proposed some quantitative generalizations for estimating catchment sediment yield following logging. I am now supervising research into the extent to which catchment afforestation combined with riparian planting of trees on flood plains can reduce downstream flooding.


2013 On sabbatical at the Universidad Austral de Chile at Valdivia supported by a grant from Chile’s Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica (CONICYT) within the programme Concurso Nacional de Atracción de Capital Humano Avanzado del Extranjero (MEC contract 80120037). Published data for temperate forests across the world were analyzed to investigate the potential for generalized quantitative expressions of catchment sediment yield impact in the years immediately following logging. The principal results were: 1) The maximum increase in specific sediment yield (in t km-2 yr-1) following logging is one order of magnitude above the control sediment yield at both the annual and storm event scales, at least under normal circumstances of Best Management Practice; 2) There is no apparent relationship between sediment yield and the proportion of catchment logged, at least at the general scale; 3) A cumulative probability distribution for the year in which the maximum post-logging sediment yield occurs, shows the majority of cases falling in the first two years. 

2009-12 Principal Investigator for Newcastle University component of European Commission-funded ForeStClim Interreg project. Development and application of forest hydrology model and visualisation tool (HYLUC and EXCLAIM) for showing the hydrological effects of forestry activities (e.g. planting different tree species) for present and future climates. Field study of the hydrological impact of a mature conifer plantation cover relative to open grassland on blanket peat, including spatial scale effects and the dependency of the impacts on climate change. (

2005-8 Coordinator of the European Commission-funded EPIC FORCE project (Evidence-based Policy for Integrated Control of Forested River Catchments in Extreme Rainfall and Snowmelt) (3 EU partners, 5 Latin American partners) on the impact of forests on flood response for extreme rain events and the development of science-based policy for forest management in Latin America. The project results support the hypothesis that, as the size of the flood peak increases, the effect of forest cover becomes less important. Guidelines for integrated water and forest resources management have been developed that recognize this effect but emphasize the role that forests play in reducing the flood levels of more moderate events. The research findings have been transferred to policy-making for the four focus countries via a set of policy briefs, taking into account the institutional frameworks, achievable policy objectives and key stakeholders. Overall the project has shown how the integration of science, management and policy research can not only improve fundamental understanding of the underlying science but also recommend management and policy developments which are for use at the local, national and international level. The project has used an advance in scientific understanding to improve management practices and policy formulations which affect people and the environment in which they live. (


Developed the field of river basin erosion and sediment transport modelling at Newcastle University, based on the SHETRAN physically based and spatially distributed catchment modelling system, taking it into the new areas of landslide erosion modelling (DAMOCLES, LESSLOSS, MediGrid projects), decision support (MEDALUS, MEDACTION) and policy development (EPIC FORCE). Coordinator of the European Commission-funded DAMOCLES project (Debrisfall Assessment in Mountain Catchments for Local End-users)(6 EU partners, 2000-3) which integrated new modelling approaches for debris flow hazard assessment. The landslide modelling has included the development of a SHETRAN component for modelling the erosion and sediment yield produced by shallow landslides at the catchment scale, assessment of the impacts of land use and climate change on shallow landslide occurrence and sediment yield, and modelling landslide occurrence and sediment yield as a function of rainfall return period. (

Catchment Manager for the 330-km2 Eden River research catchment (Cumbria), created within the national NERC CHASM programme (Catchment Hydrology And Sustainable Management) (2000-5). Measurements on a nested basis (at scales of 1, 10, 100 and 1000 km2) support research into the fundamental issue of scale dependency in catchment response. (See postgraduate supervision.) (

Current Work


Bathurst, J.C., Moretti, G., El-Hames, A., Beguería, S., and García-Ruiz, J.M. 2007. Modelling the impact of forest loss on shallow landslide sediment yield, Ijuez river catchment, Spanish Pyrenees. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 11(1), 569-583.

Bathurst, J.C. 2007. Effect of coarse surface layer on bed-load transport. Proc. Am. Soc. Civ. Engrs., J. Hydraul. Engrg., 133(11), 1192-1205.

Huber, A., Iroumé, A. and Bathurst, J. 2008. Effect of Pinus radiata plantations on water balance in Chile. Hydrol. Process., 22, 142-148.

Bovolo, C.I., Abele, S.J., Bathurst, J.C., Caballero, D., Ciglan, M., Eftichidis, G. and Simo, B. 2009. A distributed framework for multi-risk assessment of natural hazards used to model the effects of forest fire on hydrology and sediment yield. Computers and Geosciences, 35, 924-945.

Bathurst, J.C., Bovolo, C.I. and Cisneros, F. 2010. Modelling the effect of forest cover on shallow landslides at the river basin scale. Ecological Engineering, 36, 317-327.

Bathurst, J.C., Amezaga, J., Cisneros, F., Gaviño Novillo, M., Iroumé, A., Lenzi, M.A., Mintegui Aguirre, J., Miranda, M. and Urciuolo, A. 2010. Forests and floods in Latin America: science, management, policy and the EPIC FORCE project. Water International, 35(2), 114-131.

Bathurst, J.C. 2011. Predicting impacts of land use and climate change on erosion and sediment yield in river basins using SHETRAN. In Handbook of Erosion Modelling, Morgan, R.P.C., and Nearing, M.A. (eds.), Blackwell, 263-288.

Bathurst, J.C., Iroumé, A., Cisneros, F., Fallas, J., Iturraspe, R., Gaviño Novillo, M., Urciuolo, A., de Bièvre, B., Guerrero Borges, V., Coello, C., Cisneros, P., Gayoso, J., Miranda, M., Ramirez, M. 2011. Forest impact on floods due to extreme rainfall and snowmelt in four Latin American environments 1: Field data analysis. Journal of Hydrology, 400, 281-291.

Bathurst, J.C., Birkinshaw, S.J., Cisneros, F., Fallas, J., Iroumé, A., Iturraspe, R., Gaviño Novillo, M., Urciuolo, A., Alvarado, A., Coello, C., Huber, A., Miranda, M., Ramirez, M., Sarandón, R. 2011. Forest impact on floods due to extreme rainfall and snowmelt in four Latin American environments 2: Model analysis. Journal of Hydrology, 400, 292-304.

Birkinshaw, S.J., Bathurst, J.C., Iroumé, A., Palacios, H. 2011. The effect of forest cover on peak flow and sediment discharge – an integrated field and modelling study in central-southern Chile. Hydrological Processes, 25(8), 1284-1297.

Bovolo, C.I. and  Bathurst, J.C. 2012. Modelling catchment-scale shallow landslide occurrence and sediment yield as a function of rainfall return period. Hydrological Processes, 26(4), 579-596. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.8158.

Bathurst, J.C. 2013. Critical conditions for particle motion in coarse bed materials of nonuniform size distribution. Geomorphology, 197, 170-184.

Bathurst, J.C. 2014. Comment on “A paradigm shift in understanding and quantifying the effects of forest harvesting on floods in snow environments” by K.C. Green and Y. Alila (Wat. Resour. Res., 48, W10503, doi:10.1029/2012WR012449, 2012.) Wat. Resour. Res., 50, 2756-2758, doi:10.1002/2013WR013613.

Birkinshaw, S.J., Bathurst, J.C., and Robinson, M. 2014. 45 years of non-stationary hydrology over a forest plantation growth cycle, Coalburn catchment, Northern England. J. Hydrol., 519, Part A, 559-573.

Bathurst, J.C., and Iroumé, A. 2014. Quantitative generalizations for catchment sediment yield following forest logging. Wat. Resour. Res., 50(11), 8383-8402. doi:10.1002/2014WR015711.

Mills, C.F., and Bathurst, J.C. 2015. Spatial variability of suspended sediment yield in a gravel-bed river across four orders of magnitude of catchment area. Catena,133, 14-24.

Beven, K., Bathurst, J., O’Connell, E., Littlewood, I., Blackie, J., and Robinson, M. 2015. Hydrological modelling. In Progress in Modern Hydrology, Rodda, J.C. and Robinson, M. (eds.), Wiley, 216-239.

Bathurst, J.C., Birkinshaw, S.J., Cisneros, F., and Iroume, A. 2017. Forest impact on flood peak discharge and sediment yield in streamflow. In River System Analysis and Management, Sharma, N. (ed.), Springer Science Business Media Singapore, 15-29. Ebook DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-1472-7_2.

Wilkinson, M.E. and Bathurst, J.C. 2018. A multi-scale nested experiment for understanding flood wave generation across four orders of magnitude of catchment area. Hydrology Research. Hydrology Research, 49(3), 597-615.DOI 10.2166/nh.2017.070.

Bathurst, J., Birkinshaw, S., Johnson, H., Kenny, A., Napier, A., Raven, S., Robinson, J., and Stroud, R. 2018. Runoff, flood peaks and proportional response in a combined nested and paired forest plantation/peat grassland catchment. J. Hydrol., 564, 916-927.


Mr Mark Wilkinson. (2004-8). A multiscale nested experiment for understanding and prediction of high rainfall and flood response spatial behaviour.

Ms Carolyn Mills. (2006-10). Field study of spatial variability in sediment delivery along a rural river system, River Eden, Cumbria.

Mr Gholamreza Azizyan. (Completed 2010). A laboratory study of scour at river structures subject to unsteady flows

Mr Nicholas Barber. (Second supervisor) (2009-13). Nutrient transport regime and impact of soft engineering structures, Eden valley, Cumbria.

Ms Josie Geris. (Second supervisor) (2008-12). Multiscale experimentation, monitoring and analysis of the impacts of local scale land use management changes on downstream flooding.

Ms Pudyastuti. (Second supervisor) (2010-14). Integrated flood management in trans-boundary river basin: a case study in Bemgawan Solo River basin, Indonesia.

Mr Fatai Oladapo Tijani. (2011-2015). Field study of spatial variability in nutrient yield along a rural river system, River Eden, Cumbria.

Ms Mhari Barnes. (2014-). Will catchment scale afforestation for mitigating flooding significantly reduce water resource availability and productive farmland? 

Ms Maria Berdeli. (MPhil 2018). Evidence-based policy for forest and water resources management in Greece.

Esteem Indicators


  • ******** Leadership of consortia

2000-2003. Coordinator, EC DAMOCLES project

2005-2008. Coordinator, EC EPIC FORCE project

  • ********* EU collaborative research

2000-2003. Coordinator, EC DAMOCLES project

2005-2008. Coordinator, EC EPIC FORCE project

2004-2007. Partner, EC LESSLOSS project

2004-2006. Partner, EC MEDIGRID project

2009-2012. Partner, EC ForeStClim Interreg project 

  • ********** Invitations

2005. Invited external PhD examiner for University of Exeter

2006. Invited external PhD examiner for University of Melbourne, Australia

2006. Invited external PhD examiner for Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon, France (examination in French)

2008. Invited member of jury, and president of the jury, for the public examination "Diplôme d'Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches", Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble, France (examination in French)

2008. Invited evaluator for staff promotions at University of Zuerich (Switzerland) and Princeton University (USA)

2014. Invited external PhD examiner for University of Nottingham

2015. Invited external PhD examiner for University of Glasgow

  • ******* Awards

Bathurst, J.C., Amezaga, J., Cisneros, F., Gaviño Novillo, M., Iroumé, A., Lenzi, M.A., Mintegui Aguirre, J., Miranda, M. and Urciuolo, A. 2010. Forests and floods in Latin America: science, management, policy and the EPIC FORCE project. Water International, 35(2), 114-131.

This paper was judged by the International Water Resources Association to be the best paper published in Water International in 2010.  

  • ******* Plenary addresses or keynote papers at major conferences

2005. Invited lecturer (in Spanish) at a Special UNESCO IHP Session on “Towards Sedimentation Management” as part of an International Postgraduate course on “Integrated Management of Water Resources” organized by the University of Buenos Aires and the Argentine Institute of Water Resources, Buenos Aires, 1 April 2005

2005. Invited keynote speaker at COST634 Conference on “Conservation Strategies Crossing Farm and Catchment Scales: Policy, Perception and Management”, Rouen, France, 5-7 June 2005

2008. Invited keynote speaker at 2nd International Conference on "Ground Bio- and Eco-engineering: The Use of Vegetation to Improve Slope Stability", Beijing, China, 14-18 July 2008

2010. Invited keynote speaker at International Workshop on River Management IWRM-2010, New Delhi, India, 14-16 December 2010

2012. Invited speaker at European Geosciences Union Session SSS1.1 Milestones in Soil Science Research, Vienna

2013. Invited speaker at XXVIII Silvotecna, ExpoCorma (Forestal Celulosa Papel), Concepcion, Chile

2013. Invited speaker at 1st Congress on EcoHydrology in Latin America and the Caribbean, Santiago, Chile

2014. Invited speaker at Symposium on "Land Use Change Impacts on Floods”, Vienna

2017. Invited speaker at 1st International Conference on Integrated Water Quality Management, University of Cuenca, Ecuador

  • ********* Participation in advisory, review, funding or standard setting bodies

2005. Invited proposal evaluator for the Austrian Science Fund (Division for Natural and Technical Sciences Fonds zur Foerderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF)), Vienna

2005 and 2009. Invited evaluator of the Kplus Centre for Natural Hazard Management (alpS) for the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (Oesterreichische Forschungsfoederungsgesellshaft, FFG), Innsbruck

2011. Invited external assessor for new MSc course at Brunel University, UK 

  • ******* Editorships or editorial board membership

2000-present. Invited member, Scientific Committee of the Chilean forest sciences journal Bosque


Postgraduate Teaching

CEG8520 Hydrosystems Processes and Management (Module leader and 40% teaching).

CEG8506 Hydrosystems Modelling (10%).

Dissertation supervision.