Project Description

A full project description can be found on Find a PhD. Please see below for additional information about this project:

Dr. David Haro-Monteagudo is a Lecturer in Global Hydrology and Water Security at the School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen. Dr. Haro-Monteagudo’s main research and teaching focuses on integrated water resources management, hydrological and water allocation modelling, climate adaptation and decision making. Dr Haro-Monteagudo has extensive experience in hydrological modelling of mountainous regions and climate adaptation for irrigated agriculture. Dr Haro-Monteagudo will be the principal supervisor of this project, and he will provide training in hydrological and water allocation modelling, and advanced data analysis.

Dr. Martina Bozzola is a Lecturer in the economics of agriculture, food and health, at the School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast. Dr. Bozzola’s main research and teaching focus is on agricultural and environmental economics (decision making under risk, technology adoption,), climate change economics and environmental management. Dr Bozzola academic record includes research and outreach activities to analyse the policy implications of changing hydro-climatic conditions for water management in European Mountainous regions . She will provide training in survey design and implementation, economics, and stakeholders engagement.

Dr Josie Geris is a senior lecturer in Hydrology at the School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen. Her research focusses on the impact of different land and water use/management strategies on water resources. Dr Geris will provide training in process understanding of water availability and plant water use under changing climatological conditions, and transferring this knowledge into modelling scenarios.

The student will work together with other PhD students at the University of Aberdeen and Queen’s University Belfast, which will open opportunities for collaboration and exchange of ideas.

Essential skills

  • 2.1 BSc Hons or higher degree in Geography, Geosciences, Agricultural Sciences, Environmental Economics, or similar
  • Excellent written and oral English

Desirable skills

  • Basic data analysis e.g. with R, Stata, SPSS and/or Python.
  • Basic spatial data handling with GIS software

Photo by Pierre P. Pitlo on Pixabay.


David Haro Monteagudo

Primary Supervisor:

Profile: David Haro Monteagudo
Institution: University of Aberdeen
Department/School: School of Geosciences

Martina Bozzola

Secondary Supervisor:

Profile: Martina Bozzola
Institution: Queen's University, Belfast
Department/School: School of Biological Sciences

Josie Geris

Additional Supervisor:

Profile: Josie Geris
Institution: University of Aberdeen
Department/School: School of Geosciences

Research Methods

Spatial and temporal data analysis: The student will collect historical climate, hydrology, agricultural and socio-economic data at European and case study level. Basic and advanced statistical analyses will be implemented in this database to identify relevant trends and patterns on current climate change effects on irrigated agriculture across case studies.

Hydro-economic modelling: Hydro-economic models represent spatially distributed water resource systems, infrastructure, management options and economic values in an integrated manner. In these tools water allocations and management are either driven by the economic value of water or economically evaluated to provide policy insights and reveal opportunities for better management. It is expected the student builds a model for each case study to assess the effects of climate change and the trade-offs of different climate adaptation strategies using the same architecture to allow intercomparison.

Stakeholder engagement, survey instruments design, data collection and analysis: the design of climate adaptation strategies in increasingly influenced by public participation, whose attitudes towards climate change, and adaptation preferences vary from one site to another. The student will have the opportunity to develop stakeholder-defined scenarios and adaptation portfolios to later implement in their modelling, as well as to assess different attitudes towards climate adaptation in irrigated agriculture across regions.

Expected Training Provision

Training will be provided on all the research methods, focusing on the particular interests of the student. During this project, the student will also have many opportunities to develop and train their soft skills like time management, project management, presentation and writing skills, collaboration, communication, leadership, critical thinking, and problem solving.


Within the next decades, effects of climate change and population growth are expected to worsen availability and quality water resources supply, particularly through altered discharge patterns from mountains and increasing demand for food production. Many agricultural regions in Europe are starting to experience the effects of climate change, with altered streamflows and longer, more persistent, and more frequent drought events. The forecasted increase in irrigation water demand across Europe may threaten the sustainability of agricultural systems, have adverse effects on the economy of farmers, and potentially trigger/exacerbate inter-sectoral conflicts, e.g. between agriculture, energy, and the residential sector. Also, with the expansion of irrigation, it is almost certain that circulating flows in rivers will be greatly reduced, potentially threatening the supply to other water uses or the environmental quality of rivers. Optimal policies should respond to both the existing institutional characteristics, as well as future climatic trends. There is a need to understand the effect of these potential new pressures on water resources systems and to revise current water management and operation strategies for a sustainable adaptation to climate change.

This project will assess the different effects of irrigation expansion as a climate adaptation measure across Europe, focusing on mountainous regions. The use of hydro-economic modelling will allow comparison against other climate adaptation measures as well as evaluate necessary management changes. Focusing on various case studies will help understanding regional differences in climate adaptation for (irrigated) agriculture and potential management changes needed. This is an aspect of novelty as most of these kinds of studies normally focus on a single catchment and the different approaches make it difficult for regional intercomparison.

Proposed Timetable

The funding will allow the student to develop their research for three and a half years (full-time) starting in October of academic year 2022-2023. The student will have access to data from the beginning of their project, ensuring they can conduct analyses and start an initial publication, whilst also developing their ideas and planning future work.

Year 1

  • Months 1-4
    • Literature review, initial exploration of existing data at European and case study scales. Engagement with study regions and stakeholders.
  • Months 4-6
    • Initial training in methodologies and development of project plan for modelling.
  • Months 7-12
    • Beginning of hydro-economic modelling works. Analysis of historical data, model calibration and uncertainty evaluation.

Year 2

  • Months 13-15
    • Continuation of hydro-economic modelling works. Analysis of historical data, model calibration and uncertainty evaluation.
  • Months 16-18
    • Selection and evaluation of future climate data for implementation in the calibrated models.
  • Months 19-24
    • Identification of climate adaptation trends and modelling implementation options for each case study. Design of future scenarios through stakeholder participation.

Year 3

  • Month 25-27
    • Model running under climate change scenarios, extraction of results, and identification of best intercomparison approaches. Sharing of results with stakeholders.
  • Months 28-33
    • Further analyses / modelling. Implementation of stakeholder-defined options. Several options depending on interest of student – e.g. trade-off analysis between measures and water uses, modification of water management and operation activities, etc.
  • Month 34-36
    • Finalise manuscripts

Year 4

  • Month 37-40
    • Working with stakeholders at case studies in the practical implementation of the identified adaptation strategies.
  • Month 40-42
    • Thesis write up and additional papers


  • earth-systems
  • environmental-management

View All Projects