Photo of Dr Brad Sherman.

Dr Brad Sherman.

Dr Brad Sherman: reservoir water quality and greenhouse gas emissions

Dr Brad Sherman's research interests include reservoir dynamics and its influence on algal blooms, reservoir water quality and reservoir greenhouse gas emissions.

  • 9 October 2009 | Updated 27 July 2012

Current activities

Dr Brad Sherman is a senior research scientist with CSIRO Land and Water's Catchment Biogeochemistry and Aquatic Ecology program. He specialises in field experimental studies and computational modelling of catchment sediment and nutrient generation and transportation processes and the physical, chemical and biological dynamics of receiving waters such as reservoirs and estuaries.

Dr Sherman's primary research interest is in reservoir dynamics and its influence on algal photophysiology.

His projects in this area have covered reservoir and weir pool water quality and algal bloom dynamics, field studies of the effectiveness of reservoir management techniques (artificial destratification, oxygenation, surface pumps), and cold (thermal) water pollution caused by tall dams.

During the past five years Dr Sherman has worked extensively modelling nutrient loads from diffuse sources in Great Barrier Reef Lagoon catchments and co-developed protocols (in collaboration with Dr Stuart Whitten, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences) to address uncertainty in understanding and natural variability in field data for incorporation into Water Quality Improvement Plans.

Dr Sherman's current research focuses on quantifying the temporal and spatial variability of methane emissions from reservoirs and the scope for mitigating these emissions.

The objective is to develop a more accurate understanding of total annual emissions from freshwater systems and how differences in these emissions are related to catchment characteristics such as climate, soil, vegetation and land use.

Previous research projects include:

Dr Sherman has worked extensively modelling nutrient loads from diffuse sources in Great Barrier Reef Lagoon catchments.

  • Rushy Billabong study on blue-green algal blooms and physical-chemical-biological coupling in billabongs
  • Maude Weir (Murrumbidgee River) study that identified the causal mechanism relating flow and blue-green algal bloom formation in Australian weir pools
  • Chaffey Dam study (Cooperative Research Centre Freshwater Ecology) that monitored in detail the chemical, biological and physical responses of a reservoir when artificially mixed using bubble plumes
  • Cold water pollution (CWP) studies to identify cost-effective strategies for the mitigation of CWP downstream of Australian dams and to model the response of native fish populations to thermal pollution
  • Response of reservoir stratification and water quality subject to the use of surface mixers to pump surface layer water below the thermocline (an alternative approach to the use of bubble plumes) has been studied with the CRC Water Quality and Treatment at Myponga and Happy Valley Dams and through an American Water and Wastewater Association Research Foundation (AWWArf) funded study at Googong Dam
  • The Short Term Modelling project used the model SedNet/ANNEX to provide the most up-to-date assessment of sediment and nutrient loads delivered to the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon from the five main natural resource management (NRM) regions
  • The Margin of Safety and Reasonable Assurance project established protocols for dealing with uncertainty in data and understanding and reviewed and recommended frameworks.


Dr Sherman has a background in environmental fluid dynamics focusing on physical-chemical-biological coupling in freshwater systems with emphasis on reservoir water quality and algal bloom dynamics.

He joined CSIRO in 1989 after completing his Doctorate at University of Western Australia.

Prior to coming to Australia in 1983, Dr Sherman worked for three years as a hydrographer for Pacific Gas and Electric Corporation in San Francisco, California, USA.

Academic qualifications

  • Bachelor of Science (Honours) from University of California Berkeley, USA in 1978
  • Doctor of Philosophy from University of Western Australia Centre for Water Research in 1989.

Dr Sherman's doctoral studies commenced in the field of aquatic ecological modelling and later shifted to the modelling and control of solar ponds (a technology to collect and store solar energy as heat) including real-time data assimilation and operational forecasting of hydrodynamic behaviour of the pond.


Dr Sherman is the author of 10 journal articles, 27 reports and 21 conference papers.

Professional activities

Dr Sherman is a member of the:

  • International Water Association
  • American Geophysical Union
  • American Society of Limnology and Oceanography
  • Australian Society for Limnology
  • North American Lake Management Society
  • Australian National Committee on Large Dams.

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