Scientific challenge

Lakes are vulnerable to a wide range of often interacting environmental pressures, such as climate change, pollution and land use change. At the same time, they provide essential services to society including water supply and recreational facilities. Because of their importance, most lakes are subject to numerous legally-binding national and European directives that set stringent targets for water quality and biodiversity. To meet these targets, lake management relies on a strong scientific evidence base identifying the pressures acting to degrade ecological resilience and developing the tools to enable adaptable and proactive management.

Project overview

We carry out multidisciplinary research that provides process-based understanding of how lakes function. Our results help with the planning, assessment and implementation of whole-lake restoration programmes within the UK and beyond.

Having worked in this area for several decades, we now have a number of long-term datasets that can provide important information on pressure-response-recovery chains in impacted systems. By synthesising this knowledge into decision support tools, we help water managers across the world make evidence-based decisions on how to design and implement lake restoration programmes.

Monitoring of sentinel lake ecosystems

We have been monitoring sentinel lake ecosystems across the UK for many years. The data collected are extensive and provide invaluable insights into how and why lakes respond to environmental change.

Restoring impacted systems

Our knowledge of how lake ecosystems respond to environmental change is routinely used to assess international, national, regional and site-specific lake management requirements. This knowledge has been incorporated into a range of decision support tools that can help lake managers diagnose water quality problems effectively and develop suitable restoration strategies.

UK case studies

We have been involved in lake restoration studies at a number of sites within the UK. These include:


Our long-term monitoring data can be accessed through the UKCEH Environmental Information Platform.


Our Aquatic Mesocosm Facility is used by our Lake Ecosystems group to carry out experimental work. Our long-term lake observatory monitoring sites and lake monitoring buoys provide crucial data and infrastructure to improve understanding of ecological processes and environmental change impacts.


Details of our recent publications and reports on this topic can be found in the NERC Open Research Archive (NORA). For easier searching, view a list of publications from 2007 to 2012:

Principal Investigator