Prof Alan MacDonald

Prof Alan MacDonald

Principal Hydrogeologist

Location: Edinburgh

Tel: 0131 6500 389

E-mail Prof Alan MacDonald


  •  2012 : Honorary Professor at the University of Dundee
  •  2006 : Principal Hydrogeologist BGS Edinburgh
  •  2001 : PhD, University College London, Community Water Supplies from Mudstones
  •  1999 –2006 : Senior Hydrogeologist BGS Edinburgh
  •  1996 –1999 : 1996–1999 Hydrogeologist, WaterAid Oju Community Water Supply project Nigeria
  •  1992 –1996 : 1992–1996 Hydrogeologist, BGS Wallingford
  •  1992 : MSc (dist.) Hydrogeology, University College London
  •  1991 : BSc (Hons) 1st Class, Geophysics, Edinburgh University

Research interests

  • African hydrogeology and water security
  • Groundwater and catchment science: floodplain hydrogeology, groundwater & flooding, upland and glaciated catchments
  • Groundwater response to climate change and extreme events
  • International groundwater development and management — particularly in  developing countries in the context of poverty reduction and water security
  • Providing science and data to underpin groundwater management in the UK (aquifer properties, groundwater vulnerability mapping, nitrate contamination, groundwater monitoring networks, groundwater chemistry baseline)

Current projects and collaboration

  • Baseline Scotland: a joint BGS/SEPA project to characterise the baseline chemistry and residence time of groundwater in Scotland
  •  2013 – ongoing : African Groundwater Atlas: Developing an online archive of African groundwater literature, collating long term hydrographs and producing an online atlas
  •  2012 – ongoing : IGB Groundwater Resilience: A research programme aimed at strengthening the evidence base linking groundwater resources, climate variability and abstraction in the Indo-Gangetic basin
  •  2011 – ongoing : Glacier monitoring: monitoring and characterising glacier hydrology in the BGS observatory at Virkisjökull, Iceland with a particular emphasis on groundwater
  •  2011 – ongoing : Characterising groundwater surface water interactions in the Tweed River Basin: (1) GW/SW interactions in the Eddleston floodplain : with Dundee University; (2) GW/SW interactions in the Talla sub catchment
  •  2010 –2013 : Groundwater resilience to climate change in Africa: A DFID funded research project to improve the understanding of the resilience of African groundwater to climate change and links to livelihoods.

Professional association

Published outputs

Key papers

Taylor RG, Todd MC, Kongola L, Maurice L, Nahozya E, Sanga H, MacDonald AM. 2013. Evidence of the dependence of groundwater resources on extreme rainfall in East Africa Nature Climate Change , 3, 374-378

Lapworth, D J, MacDonald, A M, Krishan, G, Rao, M S, Gooddy, D C. Darling, W G 2015. Groundwater recharge and age-depth profiles of intensively exploited groundwater resources in northwest India. . Geophysical Research Letters, 42 (18). 7554-7562. 10.1002/2015GL065798 .

Foster, SSD, MacDonald AM 2014. The 'water security' dialogue: why it needs to be better informed about groundwater. Hydrogeology Journal, 22 (7). 1489-1492. 10.1007/s10040-014-1157-6

MacDonald AM, Bonsor HC, Ó Dochartaigh B E and Taylor RG. 2012. Quantitative maps of groundwater resources in Africa Environ. Res. Lett. , 7 024009