My research interests are in the hydrological response behaviour of tropical catchments, especially catchments which experience distinct rainfall seasonality. I've combined both fieldwork and hydrological modelling techniques to better understand runoff response.

More recent work have shifted towards urban stormwater remediation using low impact development techniques (LID) to achieve hydrological and stormwater runoff quality improvements. I am also very interested in river rehabilitation/restoration efforts and how these impact on the hydrological and ecological functioning of rivers.

Areas that I have worked in include Southeast Asia, India, Sri Lanka, China and now Australia often with a multi-disciplinary group of scientists and government agencies.

My recent projects include the following:

a) Hydrological and water quality remediation of urban stormwater runoff using LID (e.g. green roofs, rain gardens) in Singapore. 

We instrumented rain gardens and green roofs and examined the potential of water quality improvments and runoff reductions when LID structures such as these are implemented in a very dense urban environment. This work is now extended to include vertical greenery.

b) Agricultural runoff quality improvements using bioreactors

This project involves building bioreactors in FN Queensland to reduce nitrogen inputs from farming activities entering the Great Barrier Reef. Field trials will be supplemented with detailed modelling of water and nutrient flows as well as laboratory studies that will help us understand the optimal bioreactor substrate for use and field practices that will encourage widespread implementation of such systems.

c) Flood hydrology in Northern Thailand looking at contemporary and paleofloods 

I am interested in the controls and drivers of flood generation in tropical catchments especially in areas that experience very complex rainfall due to ENSO and monsoon rainfall. My experience in dating flood deposits using optically stimuated luminescence techniques also allows a greater understanding into the magnitude and frequency of paleofloods in tropical catchments.

d) Hydrological response behaviour of tropical catchments

We are currently monitoring a tropical rainforest catchment to examine its rainfall-runoff response using stable isotopes of water, geochemistry and traditional hydrometric monitoring techniques.

e) Catchment water budget modelling

This project looks at improving catchment water budget modelling for two tropical catchments in Far North Queensland (Tully, Barron) by including extra information (e.g. stable isotopes of water).

If the above sounds interesting, check out more of the exciting work that I am involved in with my academic group members at these website:

JCU Land and Water Science group: http://www.landwaterscience.com/

Tropical Urbanism and Design Lab: https://www.jcu.edu.au/TUDLab




  • EA2006: Hydrology (Level 2; CNS & TSV)
  • EA3007: Field Studies in Tropical Land and Water Science (Level 3; CNS)
  • EA3008: Advanced Hydrology (Level 3; CNS)
  • EA5016: Hydrology (Level 5; CNS & TSV)
  • EA5018: Field Studies in Tropical Land and Water (Level 5; CNS)
  • EA5090: Applied Hydrology (Level 5; CNS)
  • EV1005: Environmental Processes and Global Change (Level 1; CNS)
  • EV2401: Australian Landscape Processes and Evolution (Level 2; CNS & TSV)

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
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Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Department of Environment and Heritage Protection - Tender

Denitrification bioreactor trial in the Russell catchment of the Wet Tropics

Indicative Funding
$235,087 over 4 years (administered by Jaragun Pty Ltd)
This project will establish the effectiveness of denitrification bioreactors as an on-farm technology for removing dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) in waters draining the Babinda Swamp Drainage Area. The region has been identified as a hotspot for DIN in the Great Barrier Reef catchment. This will be the first trial of denitrification bioreactors in the Wet Tropics. Denitrifying bioreactors route water through a high-carbon substrate under anaerobic conditions to encourage denitrification (the conversion of DIN to atmospheric N2). Two bioreactor configurations will be tested at two sites, and the potential for broader adoption will be assessed.
Paul Nelson, Alex Cheesman, HanShe Lim, Bithin Datta, Colin MacGregor, Ian Layden, Nathan Waltham, Bart Dryden and Mark Bayley (College of Science & Engineering, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, TropWATER, Terrain Natural Resource Management (Wet Tropics) and Australian Wetland Consulting)
sugarcane; Water quality; nitrate; runoff; Wet Tropics; Great Barrier Reef

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science - Smart Cities and Suburbs Program

Council improving the water quality of the Great Barrier Reef through the use of smart sensors and the IoT for urban water management

Indicative Funding
$354,102 over 2 years (administered by Cairns Regional Council)
The primary aim of this grant application is to bring smart city technology into urban water management to improve urban water quality discharging to the Great Barrier Reef by: 1). Developing IOT technology to manage large data sets obtained from existing smart meters and water quality monitoring probes to make effective management decisions; and 2) Supporting the development of new cost effective, real time water quality monitoring technology. This grant application is for purchase of commercially available water quality monitoring probes suitable for a tropical urban stormwater environment, for supporting the development of new real time monitoring technology for nutrients; for the development of data analysis tools using IOT technology for both smart meter water consumption data, sewer pump station overflow data and stormwater water quality data so that the data is available in real time and can be used for effective decision making.
Wei Xiang, HanShe Lim and Niels Munksgaard in collaboration with Lynne Powell (College of Science & Engineering and Cairns City Council)
IoT infrastructure; Smart water sensors; Real-time water quality monitoring; Great Barrier Reef water quality; Urban water management

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Analyses of JCU Groundwater-Ocean Interconnection, Extent and Potential Impacts (PhD , Primary Advisor)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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