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Prof. Denis Hughes


Nationality:                              British with South African Permanent Residence
Country of Residence:            South Africa
Date of Birth:                           06:12:1951
Parent firm:                             Rhodes University
Position:                                  Professor Emeritus, Institute for Water Research
Specialisation:                         Hydrological and Water Resource Modelling
Languages:                             English

Educational Qualifications and awards

  • BSc Honours                 University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, 1973
  • PhD                               University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, 1978
  • Rhodes University Vice-Chancellors Senior Research Medal for 2012
  • IAHS/UNESCO/WMO International Hydrology Prize (Volker Medal) for 2016

Professional Qualifications

  • Registered Member, South African Council for Natural Scientists
  • Author and co-author of more than 120 publications in international scientific literature.
  • Author and co-author of numerous contract reports for external clients, e.g.:
    • Development of new approaches in hydrological or water resource modelling (including catchment hydrology models, various models to support the ecological reserve and modelling uncertainty methods).
    • Application of such models in the context of southern Africa (as well as extensive experience in the use of the Pitman model),
    • Application of models to solving specific problems, such as the impact of development and climate change on future water availability
    • Development of decision support systems linked to models
    • Development of methodologies for the estimation of environmental water requirements and the ecological reserve for rivers.
  • Previous Vice President of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences

 Employment History

2017 -              Professor Emeritus in the Institute for Water Research
2003 - 2016     Full Professor in the Institute for Water Research
1988 - 2002     Associate Professor, Institute for Water Research
1983 - 1988:    Senior Research Officer, HRU
1979 - 1983:    Research Officer, HRU, Rhodes University
1977 - 1979:    Research Assistant, Dept. of Geog., Univ. College of Wales, Aberystwyth

Professional Experience

  • More than 30 years of experience in hydrological and water resource modelling
  • Specialist knowledge in evaluation of available water resources
  • Specialist knowledge in hydrological design of water resource schemes
  • Specialist knowledge in the assessment of likely scenarios in terms of water availability, abstraction patterns and the impacts on river systems
  • Specialist knowledge in the development of hydrological modelling approaches and modelling software systems.
  • Specialist knowledge in the identification of the requirements of ecologists/aquatic scientists for hydrological information and the interpretation of that information for their purposes and the use of hydrological data to support the determination of the ecological Reserve for rivers in terms of the SA Water Act.

Recent Projects

Several research contracts with the Water Research Commission of South Africa and other funding agencies related to developments in methodologies for determining the ecological Reserve (environmental water requirements), including hydrological modelling of ephemeral river systems and real-time operation of water resource systems that include the ecological Reserve. Development and application of hydrological models in various basins of sub-Saharan Africa (e.g. Okavango, Orange, Zambesi, Congo and many smaller basins) for various clients. Development of techniques to include uncertainty estimation in water resources assessments and the incorporation of the associated risks in decision making.

Selected recent publications

Hughes, DA and Mallory, SJL (2009) The importance of operating rules and assessments of beneficial use in water resource allocation policy and management. Water Policy, 11, 731-741.

Hughes, DA, Kapangaziwiri, E and Sawunyama, T (2010) Hydrological model uncertainty assessment in southern Africa. Journ. Hydrology, 387, 221-232.

Hughes, DA and Louw, D (2010) Integrating hydrology, hydraulics and ecological response into a flexible approach to the determination of environmental water requirements for rivers. Environ. Model. & Software, 25(8), 910-918.

Hughes, DA, Kingston, DG and Todd, M.C. (2011) Uncertainty in water resources availability in the Okavango River Basin as a result of climate change. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 931-941.

Kapangaziwiri, E, Hughes, D.A. and Wagener, T. (2012) Constraining uncertainty in hydrological predictions for ungauged basins in southern Africa. Hydrol. Sci. Journ. 57(5), 1000-1019.

Tshimanga, R.M. and Hughes, D.A. (2012) Climate change and impacts on the hydrology of the Congo Basin: The case of the northern sub-basins of the Oubangui and Sangha Rivers. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth 50-52, 72-83.

Hughes, D.A., Kapangaziwiri, E. and Tanner, J. (2013) Spatial scale effects on model parameter estimation and predictive uncertainty in ungauged basins. Hydrology Research 44(3), 441-453.

Hughes, DA, Tshimanga, R, Tirivarombo, S. and Tanner, J. (2013) Simulating wetland impacts on stream flow in southern Africa using a monthly hydrological model. Hydrological Processes, 28, 1775-1786.

Hughes, D.A., Mantel, S and Mohobane, T. (2013) An assessment of the skill of downscaled GCM outputs in simulating historical patterns of rainfall variability. Hydrology Research, 45(1), 134-147.

Hughes, D.A., Desai, A.Y., Birkhead, A.L. and Louw, D. (2013) A new approach to rapid, desktop level, environmental flow assessments for rivers in southern Africa. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 59(3-4), 673-687.

Hughes, DA. (2013) A review of 40 years of hydrological science and practice in southern Africa using the Pitman rainfall-runoff model. Journal of Hydrology 501, 111-124.

Tshimanga, R.M. and Hughes, D.A. (2014) Basin-scale performance of a semi-distributed rainfall-runoff model for hydrological predictions and water resources assessment of large rivers: the Congo River. Water Resources Research. 50(2), 1174-1188.

Hughes, D.A. (2015) Scientific and practical tools for dealing with water resource estimations for the future. Proc. IAHS, 371, 23-28. doi:10.5194/piahs-371-23-2015

Mantel, S.K., Hughes, D.A. and Slaughter, A.S. (2015) Water resources management in the context of future climate and development changes: A South African case study. Journal of Water and Climate Change. (Accepted 24 March 2015). doi:10.2166/wcc.2015.073.

Hughes, D.A. (2015) Simulating temporal variability in catchment response using a monthly rainfall-runoff model. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 60 (7-8), 1286-1298.

Hughes, D.A. and Slaughter, A.R. (2015) Daily disaggregation of simulated monthly flows using different rainfall datasets in southern Africa. Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, 4, 153-171.

Slaughter, A.R., Retief, D.C.H. and Hughes, D.A. (2015) A method to disaggregate monthly flows to daily using daily rainfall observations: model design and testing. Hydrological Sciences Journal , 60(11), 1896-1910. doi: 10.1080/02626667.2014.993987.

Tumbo, M. and Hughes, D.A. (2015) Uncertain hydrological modelling: Application of the Pitman model in the Great Ruaha River Basin, Tanzania.  Hydrological Sciences Journal, 60(11), 2047-2061. doi:10.1080/02626667.2015.1016948.

Hughes, D.A., Jewitt, G., Mahé, G., Mazvimavi, D. and Stisen, S. (2015) A review of aspects of hydrological sciences research in Africa over the last decade. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 60(11), 1865-1879. Doi: 10.1080/02626667.2015.1072276.

Hughes, D.A. (2016) Hydrological modelling, process understanding and uncertainty in a southern African context: lessons from the northern hemisphere. Paper accepted for a Special Edition of Hydrological Processes.

Hughes, D.A. and Slaughter, A.R (2016) Disaggregating the components of a monthly water resources system model to daily values for use with a water quality model. Environmental Modelling & Software, 80, 122-131. Doi 10.1016/j.envsoft.2016.02.028


Last Modified: Wed, 23 Nov 2016 16:14:23 SAST