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Hydro-environmental Research Centre

Water engineering and management, from tidal stream energy to preventing flood damage.

From the dangers of flooding to renewable energy potential, the environmental management of water presents unique opportunities and challenges to engineers. The Hydro-environmental Research Centre (HRC) was established in 1997 with the aim of pursuing research into the development and application of computer models for investigating flow, water quality, sediment and contaminant transport processes, in coastal waters, estuaries and river basins.

We are also at the cutting-edge of tidal stream energy research, designing turbines to exploit the potential of tidal streams such as the Severn Estuary to provide clean and reliable renewable energy.

Watch our Tidal Stream Turbine Research


Our prime aim is to pursue research into the development, refinement and application of hydro-environmental computational models for predicting flow, water quality, sediment and contaminant transport processes in coastal waters, estuaries and river basins, with the main objectives of the Centre being summarised as follows:

  • To develop computational models to predict flow, solutes (including pollutants) and sediment transport processes in coastal, estuarine and river waters.
  • To undertake laboratory model studies and field monitoring programmes to improve on the accuracy of computational models.
  • To apply, calibrate and verify computational models against field data and develop interfaces and output devices for wider interpretation of the model results.

We are internationally known for our research on the development and refinement of the numerical models for hydro-environmental research.

Research areas include:

  • hydrodynamic and morphodynamic processes in riverine, estuarine and coastal waters
  • performance and impacts of marine turbines
  • water quality
  • flood risk management
  • environmental hydraulics including vegetated flows
  • fish-friendly hydropower
  • surface and groundwater interaction.

Experimental studies using the hydraulics laboratory facilities in HRC and national laboratories are also carried out to gain further understanding of the complex processes and support model development. We have also established strong national and international collaborations with lead consulting firms and academic institutes.

Current research activities

  • Flood modelling with focus on rapids floods and dynamic 1D-2D linking during flood events.
  • Modelling flood risk and flood hazard and implementation of Natural Flood Management.
  • Modelling hydraulic and physical features of riverine fish habitats including fish-friendly hydropower.
  • Modelling vegetation hydrodynamics.
  • Numerical weather modelling and impacts of climate change.
  • Physical and numerical modelling coastal and estuarine processes with offshore sandbanks and nearshore coastal defence structures.
  • Modelling waves, tides and surge under extreme conditions and climate change at regional scale.
  • Large-eddy simulation of turbulent free surface flows over rough beds.
  • Coastal hydrodynamics and wave-structure interaction.
  • Numerical modelling of multiphase flows.

The research topics currently being undertaken within the Centre are funded by EPSRC, NGOs, Government departments and industry.

Active research projects

PhD projects

  • Modelling 3D hydrodynamics and morphodynamics of offshore sandbanks
  • Modelling of the impact of beach nourishment on coastal morphology
  • Modelling of wind-wave interaction under extreme conditions
  • Modelling geo-instability under wave and tide conditions
  • Modelling of extreme waves and surge affected by typhoons
  • Numerical modelling of turbulent interfacial flows and fluid-structure interaction
  • Fish-friendly flows and hydropower systems
  • Modelling of solute and sediment fluxes through turbines in barrage and lagoon structures, and tidal stream arrays
  • Modelling of flood flows through hydraulic structures and natural flood management measures
  • Integrated hydro-environmental modelling of dynamic bacterial Fluxes from catchment to coast

Group leader

Professor Shunqi Pan

Professor Shunqi Pan

Professor of Coastal Engineering

+44 (0)29 2087 5694

Academic staff

Dr Reza Ahmadian

Dr Reza Ahmadian


+44 (0)29 2087 4003
Dr Michaela Bray

Dr Michaela Bray

Lecturer - Teaching and Research

+44 (0)29 0287 0907
Professor Roger Falconer

Professor Roger Falconer

Emeritus Professor

+44 (0)7775 640 468
Dr Catherine Wilson

Dr Catherine Wilson

Reader - Teaching and Research

+44 (0)29 2087 4282
Dr Zhihua Xie

Dr Zhihua Xie

Senior Lecturer

+44 (0)29 2087 9375
Dr Elizabeth Follett

Dr Elizabeth Follett

Royal Academy of Engineering-Sêr Cymru Research Fellow


We have a large, well equipped hydraulics laboratory, including:

  • Tidal basin
  • Tidal flume (1.2m wide x 1.0m deep x 17m long), bidirectional flow with the capacity of up to 1000 l/s
  • Recirculating flumes x 2 (1.2m wide and 0.3m wide respectively)
  • High flow tank
  • Acoustic Doppler Velocimeters (up to 200Hz of sampling frequency)
  • Digital fluorometers x2
  • Bed profiler
  • Automated multi-probe water level monitoring system

The flumes and basins can accommodate a wide range of hydraulic model experiments. Our staff also work closely with other research groups, government departments and industry across Wales and internationally, in acquiring field data.