School of Engineering

Staff Profile

Dr Stephen Birkinshaw

Researcher in Water Resources



Steve has been a Research Associate at Newcastle University since 1997. He is a hydrologist with particular expertise in the computer modelling of river basins.

He has successfully carried out research in the following areas: nitrate transport and nitrogen transformation processes, cold region processes, wetlands, sediment transport, surface/groundwater interactions. More recently he has researched water flow pathways using temperature as a tracer, forestry effects on flooding, the use of satellite altimetry data to augment flow estimation techniques and surface water flooding.

He has published more than 20 ISI-cited articles with 15 as the first author.

Steve is in charge of maintaining and developing the code and providing support for users of the Shetran model. This is a physically-based spatially-distributed model for water flow, sediment and solute transport in river catchments.

Roles and Responsibilities

Responsible for developing and maintaining SHETRAN catchment modelling system. SHETRAN has been at the forefront of hydrological modelling research for the past 20 years. Steve has been instrumental is making the model more accesible and user friendly leading to a large increase in the number of users.


1990 BSc - Mathematics - Nottingham University
1993 MSc - Hydrology - Newcastle University
1997 PhD - Nitrate Transport Component for SHETRAN Catchment modelling System, Newcastle University

Area of expertise: Hydrological modelling

Google scholar: Click here.

SCOPUS: Click here.


Research Interests

Physically based hydrological modelling of river basins. This includes nitrate transport and nitrogen transformation processes, cold region processes, wetlands, sediment yield and the impact of groundwater abstraction on surface waters.
In charge of SHETRAN model development and its website (

Current Work

1) Using remote sensing to estimate discharge in poorly or ungauged rivers

2) Using stream and soil temperatures as a tracer to understand flow pathways 

3) Flooding from intense rainfall as part of the SINATRA project (

4) Surface water flooding using CityCat (

5) Planting tree on flooding, focusing on the Coalburn catchment

6) Urban flood resilience (

7) Creative experiments for building resilience to future drought in Africa (

Research Roles

Principal Researcher

Esteem Indicators

Secured funds for research with NIREX.
Consultancy work for SKB (Swedish Nuclear group)
Peer reviewed paers for 15 different journals
PhD Examiner
Supervision of many PhD and MSc dissertations.


Creative drought with Birmingham University

Nirex project simulating radionuclide transport from the Geoshpere to the Bioshpere
TADPOLE project - DEFRA funded project on groundwater recharge estimation

Industrial Relevance

Worked with NIREX as an industrial partner.

Currently working with the Met Office and BGS


Modelling using Shetran and CityCat to both undergraduate and postgraduate students