N.C. van de Giesen N.C. van de Giesen

Since July 2004, Nick van de Giesen has held the Van Kuffeler Chair of Water Resources Management of the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences. He teaches Integrated Water Resources Management (CIE4450) and Water Management (CTB2120). His main interests are measuring and modeling of complex water resources systems and the development of science-based decision support systems. Development of new observation techniques, both in situ and through satellites, as well as High Performance Computing, are the core themes of both research portfolio and teaching curriculum. Since 1 January 2015, he is chairman of the Delft Global Initiative.

Before coming to Delft University, he worked from 1998 to 2004, at the Center for Development Research of Bonn University, with as main activity the scientific coordination of the GLOWA Volta Project. From 1994 to 1998, he did Post-Doctoral research on the hydrology and management of inland valleys at WARDA, Cote d’Ivoire. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University for his work on wetland development in Rwanda. At Wageningen University, he did his M.Sc. in irrigation engineering. For a complete CV see CV_Nick_van_de_Giesen.pdf.

Stories of Science

Main research projects

Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO)

Monitoring Africa's environment is an important challenge if the continent's resources are to be used in an optimal and sustainable manner. Food production and harvest predictions would profit from improved understanding of water availability over space and time. Presently, the African observation network is very limited. National governments and regional planners do not have the data to make proper decisions regarding investments in water resources infrastructure.

The idea behind this project is to build a dense network of hydro-meteorological monitoring stations in sub-Saharan Africa; one every 30 km. This asks for 20,000 of such stations. By applying innovative sensors and ICT, each station should be very cost efficient in installation, operation, and maintenance. The stations are placed at schools and integrated in the educational program. The data will be combined with models and satellite observations to obtain a very complete insight in the distribution of water and energy stocks and fluxes.
Within this project, we continue to build and test new sensors, such as an acoustic disdrometer (rain gauge) that can be produced for a fraction of the costs of a commercial equivalent with the same specifications. The first prototype disdrometer was developed in The Netherlands and tested in Tanzania for a total project cost of €5000. A recent addition is the use of GPS (GNSS) receivers for measuring atmospheric water content. This idea won the 2015 Academic and Regional European Satellite Navigation Challenge. See:


This project will develop a high-resolution global hydrological model. The project is a cooperative effort by Utrecht University, the Netherlands eScience Center, and TU Delft. This model was developed in Utrecht and is called PCRGLOB-WB. The model has been parallelised in order for it to be run very fast on a CPU cluster or a  super computer. The final ambition is to run the model at a grid of 100m x 100m, with as first intermediary step a global grid of 10km x 10km. The model will be assimilated with measurements collected on the ground and by satellites. Because the main computational bottle neck for this development is the memorry directly accessible by the CPU's, a special data assimilation algorithm has been developed in order to keep model development scalable. A beta version of the model can be found at The video presents the project.

Distributed Temperature Sensing

An important focus of recent research concerns the application of Distributed Temperature sensing (DTS) to water management problems. DTS allows for precise measurement of temperature along a fiber optic cable. The length of the cable may go up to 10 km and temperature will be measured at each meter. Accuracy will increase with the duration of the measurement. For measurements of 30 seconds, an accuracy of 0.1 K can be obtained, improving to 0.02 K for measurements of 30 minutes.

The applications have been numerous, leading to many scientific publications in recent years (see below). The first application concerned groundwater inflow into a small stream in Luxembourg. Subsequent applications include finding illicit sewer connections, finding seepage zones in canals, determining soil moisture content, and determining atmospheric temperature profiles. Important partners are Oregon State University, University of Nevada Reno, Ecole Polytechnique FĂ©dĂ©rale de Lausanne, and Charles Sturt University. Regular workshops are organized to help scientists become familiar with this interesting technique (see

For a list of all projects which are conducted in Nick van de Giesen's chair see all projects.



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Ancillary activities