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

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
Terry Marsh word cloud
Author of more than 250 hydrological summaries and other reports
December 2014 - February 2015 rainfall as % of 1971-2000 average
Water resources for the last month remain looking healthy
Meteorological equipment
Long-term weather monitoring to develop understanding of hydrometeorological systems
Pair of arctic charr
Process-based understanding of how lakes function, generating knowledge for lake managers