Global hydrology lab

department of geological sciences

university of north carolina, chapel hill

PI:  Tamlin Pavelsky


All around the world, fresh water is an essential component of physical, biological, and human systems.  As such, understanding the storage and transport of fresh water will help us understand how the world works.  In UNC’s Global Hydrology Lab, we study hydrologic processes at scales from the entire globe to a single large wetland.  Our interests are wide-ranging, but we focus on surface water hydrology, satellite remote sensing, hydroclimatology, and climate change.  We have particular interests in the hydrology of Arctic and Subarctic regions and in developing new ways to track surface water hydrology from space.


What is global hydrology?

Let them think twice before they use their powers

To blot out and drink up and sweep away

These flowery waters and these watery flowers

From snow that melted only yesterday.

                ---Robert Frost, “Spring Pools”


  1. Review paper on SWOT hydrology coauthored by Tamlin published in Surveys in Geophysics

  2. Results from NARWidth featured on

  3. Elizabeth, Tamlin, George, and Christine conduct six weeks of fieldwork in Central Alaska related to the SWOT mission.  Local radio story available here.

  4. NARWidth featured as a NASA Earth Observatory Image of the Day.

  5. North American River Width (NARWidth) Dataset, containing >7M river width and centerline measurements derived from Landsat, available here.

  6. George Allen receives GSA student research grant to study stream width variability at small scales.

  7. Tamlin receives tenure.

  8. Paper by George Allen and Tamlin analyzing patterns in North American river widths and surface area published in GRL.

  9. Paper led by Tamlin analyzing what rivers SWOT will see published in Journal of Hydrology.

  10. White paper summarizing results of the 2012 SWOT River Discharge Algorithms Workshop available here.

Last Update: 11/08/2015

Are you interested in completing an M.S. or a Ph.D. focused on patterns in global river width or on Arctic river ice processes? If you have a background in Earth Science, Geology, Geography, or a related discipline and either have the ability to program in at least one language or are willing to learn, please e-mail Tamlin at  Funding available.