Dr. Ulrich Ofterdinger




Ulrich is Director of ELS Europe, focused on providing leadership in the analysis of key policy, financial and technical aspects related to sustainable finance, in particular with regard to climate change adaptation and environmental engineering. Ulrich specialises in hydrogeology, hydrology, renewable energy, and flood risk management.

Additionally, Ulrich has extensive industry and academic experience, including a range of externally funded international research projects, Director of the MSc Environmental Engineering Programme, and Lead of the Global Environmental Resilience Research Group at Queen’s University.

Professional Memberships and Awards

  • Geological Society of London (GeolSoc, Fellow)
  • Higher Education Academy (HEA, Fellow)
  • International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH)
  • European Geosciences Union (EGU, Member)
  • American Geophysical Union (AGU, Member)
  • Engaged Research Prize for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), April 2022, Queen’s University Belfast
  • External Examiner for the MSc Applied Environmental Geology Programme at University College Cork, Ireland (2018 - 2022)
  • External Examiner for the MSc Marine and Freshwater Resources Management at National University of Ireland, Galway – NUIG (2021 - present)


  • BSc and MRes Applied Geology, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel and Universiteit Gent (1997)
  • Ph.D. Hydrogeology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (2001)
  • PCert in Higher Education Teaching (PGCHET), Queen’s University Belfast (2007)


  • English
  • German
  • French

Relevant Experience

  • Research Projects
  • Contributions
  • Selected Publications

Principle Investigator

  • US-Ireland R & D Programme project UrbanARK (>£900K); Multi-disciplinary collaboration with University College Dublin and New York University to refine flood risk assessments for coastal urban centres (2019-23)
  • NERC Doctoral Training Programme Quadrat (>£120K); Investigation of the Performance of Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage Systems in close collaboration with the Department for the Economy (DfE), British Geological Survey and industry partners (2019-23)
  • UKRI Newton Fund Impact Award Supporting Sustainable Groundwater Supply Management in Brazil (£150K); Multi-disciplinary collaboration with Serviço Geológico do Brasil, Universidade de São Paulo and Universidade Federal do Paraná on the use of airborne and ground-based geophysics to improve sustainable groundwater supply management (2020-22)
  • EU Horizon2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie and CoFund Doctoral Training Programmes (each >€3Mio); Training of Doctoral students in the area of soil & groundwater remediation and environmental impacts from subsurface energy systems with extensive industry liaison and secondments (2015-19)
  • UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund programme “Groundwater-g – Supporting Groundwater Resources Management in Sub-Saharan Africa using low cost microgravity technology”; collaboration with partners in Burkina Faso, Uganda and South Africa on the application of new microgravity sensor technology for groundwater resources management (2020-22)
  • Department for the Economy (DfE)-Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF) investigating socio-economic and environmental impacts of Shale Gas exploration in the Global South (2018/19).


  • Geothermal Advisory Committee, Department for the Economy (2021 – present)
  • Groundwater Resources Working Group, Department for the Economy (2018 – present)
  • Technical Expert to the EU Commission Working Group on Sustainable Finance (2018/2019)
  • Northern Ireland Climate Change Adaptation Programme (2019 – 2024)
  • UK’s 3rd Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA3) Report (2021)
  • UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships Peer Review College
  • Numerical Groundwater Modelling Short Course, Nelson Mandela University, South Africa (2019)
  • Current Topics in Groundwater Geophysics, Summer School at Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, (2018)
  • Geohydrology Short Course, Geological Society of South Africa, South Africa (2017)
  • Course Leader for a number of international Doctoral Training Programmes by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA, Vienna) in the area of Isotope Hydrology and Hydrodynamic Modelling; Bulgaria and Tunisia (2010 – 2015)

Selected Publications

  • Miller, A., Meneely, J., Ofterdinger, U., McKinley, J., Bertolotto, M., Laefer, D., 2023, Mapping the urban environment with a handheld mobile LiDAR system – a case study from the UrbanARK Project, in Meneely, J. (ed), Advances in 3D Surveying and Visualisations, Taylor & Francis, in press
  • Cocerva, T., Robb, M., Wong, A., Doherty, R., Newell, J., Ofterdinger, U., Carey, M., Cave, M., Cox, S., 2023, Using oral bioaccessibility measurements to refine risk assessment of potentially toxic elements in top soils across the urban area of Belfast, Science of the Total Environment, accepted
  • Vo, A. V., Bertolotto, M., Ofterdinger, U., & Laefer, D. F., 2022, In search of basement indicators from street view imagery data: An investigation of data sources and analysis strategies. KI – Künstliche Intelligenz. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13218-022-00792-4
  • Peng, Y., Ofterdinger, U. S., Miller, A., Meneely, J., McKinley, J., Laefer, D., & Bertolotto, M., 2022, Numerical simulation of the coastal flooding in urban centres with underground spaces. In M. Ortega-Sánchez (Ed.), Proceedings of the 39th IAHR World Congress (pp. 7103-7109). (IAHR World Congress: Proceedings). https://doi.org/10.3850/IAHR-39WC2521711920221660
  • Palmer, M., Ireland, J., Ofterdinger, U., & Zhang, M., 2022, #NIGeothermalWeek: Defining the vision for geothermal energy in Northern Ireland. NI Department for the Economy, https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/economy/nigeothermal-week-defining-the-vision-for-geothermal-energy-in-northern-ireland.pdf
  • Palmer, M., Ireland, J., Ofterdinger, U., Zhang, M., 2022, Net zero pathways: Building the geothermal energy sector in Northern Ireland. Department for the Economy. Technical Report, 137pp, ttps://www.economyni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/economy/Building-the-geothermal-energy-in-northern-ireland.pdf
  • Ofterdinger, U., MacDonald, A., Comte, J-C., Young, M. (eds.), 2019, Groundwater in Fractured Bedrock Environments: Managing Catchment and Subsurface Resources, Geological Society of London Special Publication SP479, ISBN 9781786204011
  • Gmelch, P., Lejano, R., O’Keeffe, E., Laefer, D. F., Drell, C., Bertolotto, M., Ofterdinger, U., and McKinley, J., 2020, The Case for Low-Cost, Personalized Visualization for Enhancing Natural Hazard Preparedness, Int. Arch. Photogramm. Remote Sens. Spatial Inf. Sci., XLIV-M-2-2020, 37–44, https://doi.org/10.5194/isprs-archives-XLIV-M-2-2020-37-2020
  • McKinley, J, Mueller, U, Atkinson, P, Ofterdinger, U, Cox, S, Doherty, R, Fogarty, D, Pawlowsky-Glahn, V & Egozcue, JJ, 2020, Chronic kidney disease of unknown origin is associated with environmental urbanisation in Belfast, UK, Environmental Geochemistry and Health. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-020-00618-y
  • Cai, Z., Wang, Z., Jin, T., Zhang, S., Ding, A, Ofterdinger, U. & Li, J., 2016, China’s 5th largest inland lake to dry-up? Incorporated hydrological and satellite-based methods in forecasting Hulun Lake water levels, Advances in Water Resources, 10.1016/j.advwatres.2016.05.010
  • Ofterdinger, U., Wilson, C., Comte, J.C., Cassidy, R., Robinson, M., 2016, Integrating airborne geophysics into risk-based assessment of groundwater contaminant plumes, in M.E. Young (ed.), Unearthed: impacts of the Tellus surveys of the north of Ireland, Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, DOI: 10.3318/978-1-908996-88-6.ch27
  • Palmer, S., Ofterdinger, U., McKinley, J., 2016, Refining the Human Health Risk Assessment Process in Northern Ireland Through the Use of Oral Bioaccessibility Data, in M.E. Young (ed.), Unearthed: impacts of the Tellus surveys of the north of Ireland, Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, DOI:10.3318/978-1-908996-88-6.ch25