Our research

We provide insight into the relationships between the natural water resource and its dependent ecosystems, so that the impacts of pressures from exploitation of the resource can be understood.

This knowledge is key to maximising the benefits provided by our water resources, while minimising adverse consequences to the environment or to human development. Additionally this understanding will inform integrated water resource management and the restoration of over-exploited freshwater and wetland ecosystems.

Our research embraces ecology and hydrology, water quality and water quantity, pristine and polluted environments, short-term variability and long-term change. It aims to deliver locally and globally.

World-class science and innovation

  • Long-term observation of surface waters, including the physical habitat, chemistry and biology of rivers, lakes and wetlands
  • Development and deployment of novel monitoring techniques to quantify extremes, dynamics and fluxes of water, associated chemicals, biota and sediment
  • Understanding the nature and change of variability in water resources, water quality and ecosystem function, and identifying trends and step-changes by comparison with observed historical variability
  • Using Earth observation data, monitoring and models to assess the status of regional and global water resources, now and in the future
  • Informing strategic planning and development of water policy by applying models that deliver forecasts of the likely impacts of change on water resources availability

Sampling at Loch Flemington

Science Groups

CEH Aquatic Mesocosm facility overflows

Our facilities

18 of the world's biggest river systems were covered  in detail during the WATCH programme
Support for sustainable freshwater management in river basins around the world
July 2015 river flows in the UK
July 2015 hydrological summary for the UK
Jet d'eau and Lac Leman in Geneva
Impacts of climate change on freshwater ecosystems
Campbell-Stokes Sunshine Recorder at CEH's Wallingford meteorological station
Providing daily data from our met station in Oxfordshire
Part of the May 2015 river flows map from the UK hydrological summary
May 2015 hydrological summary for the UK
Satellite image of Lake Naivasha, Kenya c. NASA
Highlighting international catchment management activities
Part of the April 2015 groundwater levels map in the UK hydrological summary
April 2015 hydrological summary for the UK
A swan on Loch Leven on a sunny winter's day
Database brings together more than 70 scientists from 20 countries
Weir Photo: Shutterstock
The UK’s focal point for river flow data