Dr Tim Peterson

  • Room: Level: 03 Room:
  • Building: 333 Exhibition St
  • Campus: Other

Research interests

  • Geostatistics (mapping, statistics, water table, aquifer)
  • Hydrogeology (groundwater management, surface-groundwater interaction)
  • Hydrological resilience (hydrology, resilience, catchment modelling)


I have over 17 years experience in hydrological and hydrogeological research and consulting. My research focus is on detecting long-term change in catchment hydrological processes and drivers early enough so that society can be taken action. Central to this is understanding when and where catchments do and do not recovery from disturbances, such as droughts or land cover change. All of my research is focused on social-outcomes and I strive to place my research within Pasteur's quadrant (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasteur%27s_quadrant)

I completed my Phd in 2009 on pioneering work on catchment resilience and multiple steady states (http://hdl.handle.net/11343/35439) and was subsequently awarded an Australian Research Council Post-doctoral Fellowship to continue this research.

More recently, I've been researching the use of statistics to identify catchments with multiple steady states. This research has also allowed considerably greater quantitative value to be derived from groundwater monitoring. Specifically, I've developed nonlinear groundwater time-series approaches for extrapolating and decomposing hydrographs and probabilistic geostatistical methods for mapping groundwater elevation. These tools have considerable practical outcomes and, in collaboration, they've been adopted by The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (Vic.), Power and Water Corporation (N.T.) and the Bureau of Meteorology - with the latter adopting the mapping techniques for the National Water Accounts.

I have or are supervising the following Phd students:

  • Dr. Vahid Shapoori: Statistical decomposition of groundwater hydrographs into climate and pumping impacts. (completed)
  • Ms. Emma White: Numerical evaluation of the effectiveness of groundwater management plans.
  • Mr. Sina Khatami: Quantifying equifinality in conceptual rainfall-runoff modelling.
  • Ms. Silwati Womera: Statistical estimation of flood recharge.
  • Mr Giancarlo Bonotto: Surface-groundwater modelling for better management of groundwater dependent ecosystems.

For details of my publications please see:
  • Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Tim_Peterson7
  • Google Scholar: http://scholar.google.com.au/citations?user=kkYJLF4AAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao
To access my open source resource tools please see:
  • HydroSight - A toolbox for data-driven hydrogeological insights at http://peterson-tim-j.github.io/HydroSight/
  • Catchment Resilience Model - A semi-distributed hydrological model containing positive feedbacks which includes tools for understanding hydrological resilience https://github.com/peterson-tim-j/Catchment_Resilience_Model
  • AWAPer - An R-package for catchment weighted daily precipitation, PET anywhere within Australia https://github.com/peterson-tim-j/AWAPer

Recent publications

  1. White E, Costelloe J, Peterson T, Western A, Carrara E. Do groundwater management plans work? Modelling the effectiveness of groundwater management scenarios. Hydrogeology Journal. Springer Verlag. 2019. DOI: 10.1007/s10040-019-02004-0
  2. Benke K, Norng S, Robinson NJ, Benke LR, Peterson T. Error propagation in computer models: analytic approaches, advantages, disadvantages and constraints. STOCHASTIC ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH AND RISK ASSESSMENT. Springer. 2018, Vol. 32, Issue 10. DOI: 10.1007/s00477-018-1555-8
  3. Peterson T, Western A. Statistical Interpolation of Groundwater Hydrographs. WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH. American Geophysical Union. 2018, Vol. 54, Issue 7. DOI: 10.1029/2017WR021838
  4. Peterson T, Western A, Cheng X. The good, the bad and the outliers: automated detection of errors and outliers from groundwater hydrographs. HYDROGEOLOGY JOURNAL. Springer Verlag. 2018, Vol. 26, Issue 2. DOI: 10.1007/s10040-017-1660-7
  5. Stewart I, Aye L, Peterson T. Global optimisation of chiller sequencing and load balancing using Shuffled Complex Evolution. AIRAH and IBPSA’s Australasian Building Simulation 2017 Conference. International Building Performance Simulation Association & AIRAH. 2017.
  6. Arora M, Casas-Mulet R, Costelloe J, Peterson T, McCluskey A, Stewardson M. IMPACTS OF HYDROLOGICAL ALTERATIONS ON WATER QUALITY. WATER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: FROM POLICY AND SCIENCE TO IMPLEMENTATION AND MANAGEMENT. Academic Press. 2017. Editors: Horne AC, Webb JA, Stewardson MJ, Richter B, Acreman M. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-803907-6.00006-1
  7. Su C, Peterson T, Costelloe J, Western A. A synthetic study to evaluate the utility of hydrological signatures for calibrating a base flow separation filter. WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH. American Geophysical Union. 2016, Vol. 52, Issue 8. DOI: 10.1002/2015WR018177
  8. White E, Peterson T, Costelloe J, Western A, Carrara E. Can we manage groundwater? A method to determine the quantitative testability of groundwater management plans. WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH. American Geophysical Union. 2016, Vol. 52, Issue 6. DOI: 10.1002/2015WR018474
  9. Su C, Costelloe J, Peterson T, Western A. On the structural limitations of recursive digital filters for base flow estimation. WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH. American Geophysical Union. 2016, Vol. 52, Issue 6. DOI: 10.1002/2015WR018067
  10. Fowler K, Peel M, Western A, Zhang L, Peterson T. Simulating runoff under changing climatic conditions: Revisiting an apparent deficiency of conceptual rainfall-runoff models. WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH. American Geophysical Union. 2016, Vol. 52, Issue 3. DOI: 10.1002/2015WR018068
  11. Womera S, Costelloe J, Peterson T, Western A. A synthetic study to characterize alluvial groundwater responses to overbank flood recharge. 21st International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM). Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand. 2015. Editors: Weber T, McPhee MJ, Anderssen RS.
  12. Shapoori V, Peterson T, Western A, Costelloe J. Decomposing groundwater head variations into meteorological and pumping components: a synthetic study. Hydrogeology Journal. Springer Verlag. 2015, Vol. 23, Issue 7. DOI: 10.1007/s10040-015-1269-7
  13. Shapoori V, Peterson T, Western A, Costelloe J. Estimating aquifer properties using groundwater hydrograph modelling. Hydrological Processes. John Wiley & Sons. 2015, Vol. 29, Issue 26. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10583
  14. Costelloe J, Peterson T, Halbert K, Western A, McDonnell JJ. Groundwater surface mapping informs sources of catchment baseflow. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. Copernicus GmBH. 2015, Vol. 19, Issue 4. DOI: 10.5194/hess-19-1599-2015
  15. Shapoori V, Peterson T, Western A, Costelloe J. Top-down groundwater hydrograph time-series modeling for climate-pumping decomposition. Hydrogeology Journal. Springer Verlag. 2015, Vol. 23, Issue 4. DOI: 10.1007/s10040-014-1223-0

View a full list of publications on the University of Melbourne’s ‘Find An Expert’ profile