David Pritchard

‌‌David Pritchard - d.m.w.pritchard1@newcastle.ac.uk

PhD Title:

Developing New Hydrological Modelling Approaches to Evaluate Climate Change Impacts on Infrastructure Systems in High Mountain Catchments


PhD Project Details:

River flows generated in the Upper Indus Basin (UIB) are essential for sustaining water supplies, irrigation networks, hydropower production and ecosystems in downstream lowlands.  However, continuing population growth, urbanisation and industrialisation are projected to increase regional water demand in the coming years, with reservoir sedimentation expected to reduce storage in a basin already subject to substantial hydroclimatological variability (Archer et al., 2010).  These pressures on water resources could be compounded by climate change, the effects of which may be exacerbated by enhanced warming at high elevations (Mountain Research Initiative EDW Working Group, 2015).  Robust hydrological modelling could support water resources management in this context by acting as a tool to improve understanding of catchment processes and to investigate the potential effects of climate change and other pressures.  However, there are a number of outstanding challenges in modelling high mountain catchments such as the UIB, not least how to determine appropriate model inputs and structure in topographically and hydroclimatologically complex areas with very sparse measurement networks.


This research aims to develop and evaluate methods for simulating key hydrological and cryospheric processes in mountainous regions – with particular emphasis on the UIB – in order to identify modelling approaches that balance accurate process representation with the constraints of input data availability.  Strategies for combining local observations, remote sensing and meteorological reanalysis to derive model inputs will be explored and used as a basis for forcing models with alternative parameterisations of critical processes.  The findings from this analysis will then be taken forward to assess projected climate change impacts on hydrology in the UIB, as well as the associated implications for management of regional water resource infrastructure systems.



Archer, D.R., Forsythe, N., Fowler, H.J. and Shah, S.M. (2010) ‘Sustainability of Water Resources Management in the Indus Basin under Changing Climatic and Socio Economic Conditions’, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 14(8), pp. 1669-1680. doi:10.5194/hess-14-1669-2010


Mountain Research Initiative EDW Working Group. (2015) ‘Elevation-Dependent Warming in Mountain Regions of the World’, Nature Climate Change, 5, pp. 424-430. doi:10.1038/nclimate2563



(Image - Conceptual diagram showing important characteristics of the hydrology of the Upper Indus Basin (image based on Baltoro Glacier in the Shigar Basin – derived from Google Earth))



Professor Hayley Fowler

Professor Andras Bardossy

Dr Greg O’Donnell

Dr Nathan Forsythe




Leverhulme Trust


Related Outputs

Poster Presentations

Pritchard, D., Fowler, H., Bardossy, A., O’Donnell, G. and Forsythe, N. (2015) ‘Hydrological Modelling of Mountain Catchments for Climate Change Impact Assessment, British Hydrological Society (BHS) Peter Wolf Symposium, University of Liverpool (UK) - Winner of Best Poster Award


Pritchard, D., Fowler, H., Bardossy, A., O’Donnell, G. and Forsythe, N. (2015) ‘Assessing the Potential of the High Asia Refined Analysis (HAR) to Support Hydrological Modelling in the Upper Indus Basin (UIB), Perth III: Mountains of Our Future Earth, Perth (UK)



David studied for a BA (Hons) in Geography at the University of Cambridge before completing an MSc (Distinction) in Hydrogeology at the University of Birmingham.  After finishing his studies, David gained four years of industrial experience in hydrology and hydrogeology at two leading UK environmental consultancies.  His work focused on coupled surface water and groundwater modelling to support water resources management and environmental impact assessment.  David began a PhD at Newcastle University in January 2015 in coupled hydrological and cryospheric modelling of high mountain catchments.