ir. Niels De Vleeschouwer

Compared to manmade systems, natural systems tend to be more challenging to Nielsobserve and characterise. Consequently, efforts to model these systems properly don’t always lead to satisfying predictions. I am particularly interested in how to improve those model predictions by making use of limited observations.

For my master thesis I examined the parameterisation of lumped rainfall-runoff models in so called ungauged catchments. The term ungauged implied in this case the lack of appropriate hydrograph data at the catchment outlet. To resolve this issue hydrograph data has been extrapolated in time (from historic time series) and/or space (from donor catchments).

For my current research I changed my focus to spatially distributed models. More specifically I conduct research on the suitability of sparse in situ soil moisture monitoring networks for data assimilation purposes. Hereby modelled soil moisture estimates are corrected using observed soil moisture values. However, typically for in situ monitoring networks those soil moisture measurements are spatially sparse. This inevitably complicates the data assimilation operation. I examine important influence factors like the network configuration, the observation depth of the sensors, the assimilation algorithm, etc. in order to optimise the data assimilation process.


Research topics: hydrologic models, data assimilation, soil moisture, model and observation uncertainty


Address: Coupure links 653 - Room A2.008

               9000 Ghent, Belgium

Phone: +32 9 264 61 37



  • 2012 – Present: Doctoral research scientist – Laboratory of Hydrology and Water Management, Ghent University
  • 2007 – 2012: MSc. in Applied Biological Sciences – Land and Water Management, Ghent University


  1. De Vleeschouwer, N., Pauwels, V. R. N. Assessment of the indirect calibration of a rainfall-runoff model for ungauged catchments in Flanders, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 17, 2001–2016, 2013.
  2. Gobeyn, S., Van Wesemael, A., Neal, J., Lievens, H., Van Eerdenbrugh, K., De Vleeschouwer, N., Vernieuwe, H., Schumann, G.J.-P., Di Baldassarre, G., De Baets, B., Bates, P.D., Verhoest, N.E.C. Impact of the timing of a SAR image acquisition on the calibration of a flood inundation model, Advances in Water Resources, 2017.