“Catchment Hydrology” research group at Irstea in Antony

Our research focuses on the development of rainfall-runoff models and on their many applications in operational hydrology.


The simulation of the hydrological behavior of a catchment is a major issue for hydrology, which the rainfall-runoff modeling attempts to tackle. It consists of reproducing the hydrological response of a catchment in terms of streamflow from the knowledge of its climatic conditions (e.g., rainfall over the catchment, air temperature) and with the help of a mathematical model

Since the first rainfall-runoff simulation models proposed in the late 1950s, many models have been developed based on a variety of approaches. Although the representation of the hydrological behavior of a catchment is apparently a common problem, no satisfactory solution exists at present to fully describe all mechanisms that govern the transformation of precipitation to streamflow.

However, there is a strong demand, from research programs linked to the study of hydrosystems as well as from water resources managers, for robust and reliable modelling approaches, adapted to operational conditions.

This is, for instance, the case for flood forecasting and low flow prediction, regionalization and runoff mapping, as well the assessment of impacts of climate and environmental changes on water resources.

Our main scientific and technical objectives are:

  • to develop reliable models for the representation of the hydrological behaviour of catchments (gauged or ungauged catchments),
  • to develop methods to forecast hydrological hazards (floods, droughts) and estimate statistical streamflow descriptors,
  • to evaluate the impacts of global changes (human activities and climate change) in hydrology,
  • to develop methods for transferring tools and methodologies to hydrological operational services and engineering consultancy firms, adapting them to their different needs.