Jonathan M. Rowe

Jonathan M. Rowe


I undertook my BSc (Hons) at Royal Holloway, University of London in Digital Geosciences. My final year dissertation was titled: ‘A new method of semi-automated core quality classification: via image processing of digital 2D core images’. After this research, I became interested in computational techniques to enhance the information we obtain from geological data. During my second year I was honoured to complete a research placement with the Environment Agency. Where I utilised statistical analysis to quantify the relationship between groundwater borehole data and surface river flow state reports. I then used the results to produce a successful predictive computational model of annual ephemeral extent of the River Pang accompanied by a well-received project report.

I completed my MSc at Royal Holloway, University of London in Energy Geosciences. My independent project involved the enviro-economic assessment of using deep chalk groundwater and subterranean river water to cool the London Underground tunnels. Published in the journal: Sustainable Cities and Society, available here. Notably, I undertook an ArcGIS assessment of regional groundwater level and drainage data, finite difference groundwater modelling in Modflow, discharge estimation via fieldwork (e.g., sensor emplacement), discharge to energy conversion and economic evaluation. After this project, I became keen to continue research focussed on subsurface modelling and evaluation for geo-resources, particularly methods of harnessing natural systems to assist in developing clean growth in our society.

PhD title: Sustainable cooling of the London Underground network

Subsurface rail networks across the globe are becoming increasingly overheated because of climate change. More prolonged and extreme summers, combined with a rapidly increasing urban population, has led to devastating impacts on both public health and rail engineering. Surprisingly, little attention has been paid to mitigating this situation, even in major cities like London, whose Underground network currently only uses temporary fans to shift warm air around in summer. At the same time, any proposed cooling scheme should be fully environmentally sustainable and must not contribute towards climate change, so should not contain refrigerants. In this way, this project will elucidate a proof-of-concept scheme that harnesses water from buried rivers and the Chalk aquifer to cool Tube stations via a process of heat exchange (using ground-source heat pumps – GSHPs).

I will identify feasible locations for the operation of such a proof-of-concept scheme from a hydrological point of view, by mapping subterranean rivers and groundwater levels across central London. Then, the effects of abstracting and re-injecting heated water on the subsurface will be investigated using a variety of numerical modelling tools. An economic cost-benefit analysis will also be undertaken. Field mapping at several proxy Chalk outcrops across southeast England will elucidate fracture patterns, which will allow the numerical modelling to be calibrated. Following the development of self-build water level sensors and GSHPs, I will conduct field tests, together with a scale model that cools a theoretical subsurface railway station using groundwater and/or subterranean river water that flows through a GSHP.


    Rowe J.M. and Paul J.D., 2022. Cooling the London Underground: Evaluating the use of groundwater and subterranean river water. Sustainable Cities and Society, 76, 103531.

Awards and prizes

Best Innovative Sustainable Geoscience Project, MSc dissertation, Royal Holloway, University of London

Other information

RHUL AAPG IBA Team Member (2021)

Lyell student Geoscience Society Committee Member (2017–2021)

Postgraduate taught departmental representative (2020–2021)

Undergraduate departmental representative (2017–18