ApRES is small, portable radar based instrument with the capability of autonomously and accurately monitoring changes of depth to the water table.  The instrument has the potential to provide a low-cost alternative to piezometric monitoring-boreholes that are normally used in hydrological studies. An ApRES network is able to monitor the discharge and recharge of aquifers in arid and semi-arid regions, making the management of groundwater in water scarce regions practically possible.

ApRES (Autonomous phase-sensitive Radio Echo Sounder) was developed in collaboration between the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and University College London to monitor an ice shelf’s changing thickness. The implementation of the technology was explored in a development context in the University of Cambridge Development i-teams program.

The instrument is relatively low cost to manufacture and is capable of being left to monitor water tables in harsh and power restricted areas (such as in the Arctic and remote desert regions). It can also be automated, which means that it can be used in contexts where high levels of technical input are unavailable.



The project is currently looking into implementing ApRES in a refugee camp setting. By monitoring changes in the water table depth, in response to water extraction from a production borehole data can be gathered to calculate the maximum sustainable water production capacity (volume) of a borehole, or to identify how far from an existing production borehole a second borehole would need to be drilled to avoid compromising the productivity of the first well.


The Team

The members of the ApRES project team are:

Sara Caputo is a third-year PhD candidate, working on transnational social history. She has a long-standing interest in international development.

Tom Hudson is a PhD candidate in glacier and volcano geophysics. He has also worked with other teams developing and applying new technologies in industry.

Mark Muller, geophysicist, was technical mentor on the i-Teams program. He has much experience of geophysical field work and in assessing data quality during field programs.

Michael Price is a physics postdoc working on new materials for solar cells, LEDs and lasers, and has a committed interest in developing-world application of new technologies

Emma WangThomas is an undergraduate studying Human, Social, and Political Sciences. She has worked for a technology start-up, and hopes to pursue a career in development.

Patrick Williamson is a third-year PhD candidate in organic chemistry, and has experience working in the consumer and pharmaceutical industries.