Global Rivers Group
@Texas A&M

We use satellites, models, and fieldwork to study Earth's freshwater


We're a growing academic research group in the Department of Geography at Texas A&M University. Founded in 2018 by Dr. George H. Allen, we are recruiting students who are interested in using emerging technology to tackle global-scale questions involving rivers, freshwater resources, and a changing planet.

What we do

We study rivers, streams, and other surface water bodies using remote sensing, fieldwork, and models. We seek to understand how climate change and land use are altering the global water cycle, in particular river hydrology. With rapid advancements in remote sensing technology, computing power, and model sophistication, it is truly an exciting time to be studying the global water cycle.


Why we do it

Water is widely considered to be the world’s most vital natural resource, yet freshwater systems are directly endangered by human activities. Our work is motivated by a desire to promote the conservation, management, and understanding of Earth's surface water resources.



Updated Aug 17th, 2020

Aug 17, 2020 - John Morgan (BS Geology, Western Carolina University, Summa Cum Laude) joins the Global Rivers Group. He will be working on constraining global estimates of river and stream surface area using remote sensing and fieldwork. Welcome John! 

Aug 3, 2020 - We are seeking a graduate student (PhD or MS) starting Spring 2021 to work on remote sensing of water quality in Earth's inland waters. The project is funded by a Texas A&M X-Grants award.: Graduate student opportunity announcement

July 17, 2020 - Editorial led by Carl Legleiter at the USGS published in Remote Sensing describing the contents of the special issue entitled "Remote Sensing of Flow Velocity, Channel Bathymetry, and River Discharge": 


July 13, 2020 - Paper led by Michelle Busch at the University of Oklahoma published in Water. This study reviews the historic usage of non-perennial river and stream epithets and suggests a path forward for unifying the terminology of the discipline: 

June 23, 2020 - AGU Fall Meeting accepts session proposal entitled, Remote sensing and modeling of global rivers from the headwaters to the ocean to be convened by George Allen and his colleagues, Peirong Lin (Princeton), Xiao Yang (UNC) and Rodrigo Paiva (UFRGS Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul). 


June 12, 2020 - TAMU X-Grant proposal selected for funding. Proposal title: "Developing a SmallSat Mission to Track the Global Movement of Water, Carbon, and Sediment across Landscapes." Investigators: George H. Allen in TAMU Geography (Lead), Daniel Selva Valero in TAMU Aerospace Engineering (Co-lead), Huilin Gao in Civil Engineering (Co-lead), and Helen Reed in TAMU Aerospace Engineering (project member). 


May 9, 2020 - Paper led by George Allen published in Remote Sensing. Study shows that the Landsat archive accurately captures the long-term flow frequency distribution of rivers, except for extreme conditions like maximum and minimum flow. TAMU undergraduate research assistant, Joel Holliman coauthored the study. 

April 30, 2020 - Lin et al. (2019), Frasson et al. (2019), and Yamazaki et al. (2019) all recognized by AGU as the Most Downloaded Papers of 2018-2019. 

Apr 20, 2020 - Ennis Rios, a current MS student in the TAMU Water Management and Hydrological Science Program, joins the Global Rivers Group. Welcome aboard, Ennis!  

Apr 13, 2020 - Paper by lead author Margaret Zimmmer (at UC Santa Cruz) published in WIREs Water. This paper explores several causes and consequences of zero‐flow gage readings including frozen surface water, flow reversals, instrument error, bypass flow and upstream source loss:

Apr 11, 2020 - NASA SWOT Science Team proposal selected for funding. Proposal title: Integrating reservoirs into SWOT's global surface water storage and discharge monitoring. Investigators: Jida Wang at KSU (PI), Yongwei Shen at UCLA (Co-I), George H. Allen at TAMU (Co-I). 

Apr 2, 2020 - Paper by lead author Peirong Lin (at Princeton) published in Geophysical Research Letters. This paper uses machine learning and Big Geospatial Data to predict global bankfull river width at 723,822 river reaches globally, totaling 7.3M km in length:

Jan 22, 2020 - Paper by lead author Stephen Coss (at Ohio State) published in Earth System Science Data. This paper presents GRRATS, a new global river elevation dataset produced from satellite altimetry data:

Jan 1, 2020 - Paper led by Dr. Xiao Yang (at UNC) published in Nature. Our study quantifies the decline of Earth's river ice using big data remote sensing and then forecasts future declines using climate simulations:


We are actively recruiting graduate students to join the GRG@TAMU. If you are interested, please email George for more information. Funding is available!


©2020 by Global Rivers Group