Professor Howard Wheater obtained a first class degree in Engineering Science from the University of Cambridge and worked for Rolls-Royce as a fluid mechanics specialist before undertaking a PhD in Hydrology at Bristol University and joining the staff of Imperial College in 1978. In October 2010 he took up the role as Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. In addition, he was named the Director of the Global Institute for Water Security in March 2011.
At Imperial he holds the appointment of Senior Research Investigator, Distinguished Research Fellow and Emeritus Professor of Hydrology within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Within the Department he was Head of Environmental and Water Resource Engineering and was the first Director of the new Imperial College Environment Forum in 2008.
He is past-President and an Honorary Member of the British Hydrological Society, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and of the American Geophysical Union, and is a life member of the International Water Academy (Oslo). In 2006 he was awarded the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz International Water Prize. This was preceded by the Institution of Civil Engineers Baker Medal (2004) and the British Hydrological Society President's Prize (1996).
His research interests are in hydrology and water resources; wide-ranging applications include climate change, surface and groundwater hydrology, floods, water resources, water quality and waste management. He has published some 200 refereed papers and 7 books.
He has a wide international experience of flood, water resource and water quality studies, including the Middle East, Far East, Africa and South America, and also acted as Counsel and Advocate for Hungary at the International Court of Justice, concerning the environmental impact of the GNBS Danube Dams. He was also Counsel for the Republic of Argentina in a dispute with Uruguay concerning effluent discharges into the River Uruguay. He has a particular interest in the Hydrology of Arid areas, and has worked in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Syria and Egypt, as well as Arizona. He has contributed to the formation and implementation of UNESCO's G-WADI hydrology programme and has, since 2002, been Chair of the G-WADI Steering Committee and a member of the International Hydrological Programme Advisory Panel. He was invited by the Government of Chile to assist in the development of a centre for Arid Zone water resources for Latin America and the Caribbean, and was invited by the Japanese government to give a key-note address on water scarcity to the 2003 Kyoto World Water conference. He is currently consultant to the State of Nevada concerning safety assessment for a proposed repository for high level radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain.
He has been extensively involved in climate change research and associated UK government adaptation studies. He is currently Vice-Chair of the World Climate Research Programme GEWEX Scientific Steering Group with particular responsibility for land surface modelling and observation. He has been a member and chair of various UK flood and water resource panels and led national research initiatives into flood and water resources issues. Specifically, he was a member of the UK's 2004 and 2008 Foresight Future Flooding teams, a member of the 2008 Cabinet Office enquiry into the 2007 floods, and a contributor to a Land Use Futures Foresight study. His current research includes climate change downscaling and impacts assessment, rainfall-runoff and surface water quality modelling, including impacts of land use and land management change, and flow and transport processes in the subsurface.
He recently participated as a member of the Alberta Environment Monitoring Panel whose objective was the establishment of a world class monitoring and evaluation system for the Alberta oil sands. He was also appointed Chair of the Council of Canadian Academies Expert Panel on Sustainable Management of Water in the Agricultural Landscapes of Canada. Currently he is a member of an International Court of Arbitration case concerning the Indus Waters Treaty. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation; member of the Advisory Committee for the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute; and member of the International Advisory Committee, Heihe Watershed Allied Telemetry Experimental Research (HiWATER) Team.
et al., 2023, Challenges in Hydrologic-Land Surface Modeling of Permafrost Signatures—A Canadian Perspective, Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, Vol:15
et al., 2023, Understanding the Silala River—Scientific insights from the dispute over the status and use of the waters of the Silala (Chile v. Bolivia), Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water
et al., 2022, Advances in modelling large river basins in cold regions with Modelisation Environmentale Communautaire-Surface and Hydrology (MESH), the Canadian hydrological land surface scheme, Hydrological Processes, Vol:36, ISSN:0885-6087
et al., 2022, Hydrologic-land surface modelling of the Canadian sporadic-discontinuous permafrost: Initialization and uncertainty propagation, Hydrological Processes, Vol:36, ISSN:0885-6087
et al., 2021, Assessing Water Balance Closure Using Multiple Data Assimilation- and Remote Sensing-Based Datasets for Canada, Journal of Hydrometeorology, Vol:22, ISSN:1525-755X, Pages:1569-1589