Biogeochemistry and hydrology

This group aims to improve knowledge of biogeochemical and hydrological cycles and their role in ecosystem functions and services. To do this we study chemical, physical and biological processes and reactions that govern the composition of soil, water and living organisms.

This group aims to improve knowledge of biogeochemical and hydrological cycles using long-term monitoring programmes and experimental manipulations which in turn are used to inform model development and the assessment of future scenarios of change. Our research considers the importance of air pollution, climate change and land management at a range of spatial scales from the mountains to the sea.

Many rivers have been modified from their natural condition through flow regulation, canalisation and drainage. We use detailed geomorphic field survey techniques and remote sensing to explore the effects of dams and flow regulation on habitats of key conservation species, such as the freshwater pearl mussel. We are also exploring how river restoration practices can deliver multiple benefits for habitat, flood risks and water quality.

The way in which water flows through the landscape has important implications for the hydrological and water quality characteristics of rivers and groundwaters. Monitoring data are used to underpin the development and application of catchment-scale hydrological and water quality models.

We monitor catchments to gain greater understanding of key hydrological processes, the transfer of pollutants and the influence that management activities can have on these.

We combine knowledge gleaned from our studies at smaller scales with large scale national datasets to develop risk assessment and screening tools at a national scale. These models allow exploration of generic national responses to drivers of environmental change and identification of problematic hotspots. Our modelling team also work on strategies for mitigating diffuse pollution such as the design of buffer strips.

We have the modelling capacity to assess the effectiveness of these measures under future scenarios such as climate and land use change.

These tools provide a valuable communication tool to link with policymakers.

New monitoring and analytical techniques for emerging organic pollutants in different environmental matrices are in development, including a wide range of organic chemicals including biologically derived organics (for example, PLFA, amino acids, organic acids) and organic contaminants (PCBs, PBDEs, Phthalates, PAHs, and so on). These data underpin our research and as such are a valued resource to help improve our understanding of how and why environments change.

The research and data gathered by our research is used for a variety of purposes, such as informing government policy and demonstrating UK compliance with international commitments including the Water Framework Directive.

Claire Newman, Lisa Avery, Pat Cooper, Rachel Helliwell, Marc Stutter, Carol Taylor, Helen Watson, Mark Wilkinson Steve Addy.