Dear Visitor,

Welcome to the pages of the Earth Surface Hydrology group at Utrecht University. Our group was established in 2002. We are part of the Department of Physical Geography , one of the four departments of the Faculty of Geosciences.

Earth Surface Hydrology is concerned with the study of hydrological processes near and on the earth surface. It focuses on the flow of water, nutrients and energy between the earth surface and the subsoil and between the earth surface and the atmosphere. It aims to quantify how rainfall is portioned into infiltration, evaporation and runoff, and how nutrients in the soil and the earth surface are distributed through the landscape through surface runoff and groundwater flow.

Our research focuses on three major themes: 1) Large-scale hydrology, including the global hydrological model PCR-GLOBWB (link to global hydrology site); 2) Ecohydrology and eco-geomorphology; 3) Geocomputation.  Check out our Research pages for more information.

We are responsible for two MSc programs: Earth Surface and Water, in particular the track Hydrology and a new program called Water Science and Management. Look under Education to find out more about courses taught by our group.

Thank you for your interest,


Marc Bierkens
Chair in Earth Surface Hydrology

Applying PCR-GLOBWB in global sustainability studies

Our global Hydrology model PCR-GLOBWB was used by Rens van Beek in support of global studies on water scarcity and land degradation.

Together with PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency he contributed scenarios in support of the UNCD Global Land Outlook. Find the report here!

And together with the World Resources Institute and Deltares, Rens contributed to an assessment of water scarcity in the MENA region published  in a book by the World Bank. The book Beyond Water Scarcity and be downloaded here!


Picture from the World Bank Website

Nature publication: the fate of Asia’s glaciers under 1.5 degree warming

We published a paper in Nature projecting that under a 1.5  degree warming, as agreed upon under the Paris Agreement, the glaciers in High Mountain Asia will have lost about 35% of their mass. Under more realistic climate scenarios the mass loss could add up to 65%, with dire consequences for people that depend on the melt water runoff of the Asian rivers.

A  full-text access to a view-only version of our paper can be found with the following link!

Also see the News and Views about our paper by Graham Cogley

First author Philip Kraaijenbrink has made a nice visual story line of the study.

Some good press coverage: Carbon Brief  The Guardian

PCR-GLOBWB and high impact papers: Yoshi and Niko strike again!

Former members of our group Yoshihide Wada and Niko Wanders were involved in new high impact publications using PCR-GLOBWB:

Yoshi was co-author on a paper in Nature assessing how groundwater depletion is embedded in international food trade.  See this link for a nice BBC news item.

Both Niko and Yoshi were involved in a GRL paper looking how water management can both mitigate and intensify hydrological drought. The PNAS website had a nice item about this work.