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

Drought cover
Provides estimates of river flows in the UK
A digital data entry system to capture and store River Habitat Survey data in the field
Updated list of freshwater algae recordings in Britain and Ireland
Working on Loch Leven
The data and infrastructure to improve understanding of ecological processes and environmental change impacts
Predicts soil moisture and crop success in salinity-prone soils
Thames flooding at Wallingford
Produces forecasts of river level and flow in real-time and provides tools for off-line use
River Findhorn, Scotland
Water quality and flow model for river networks
map of UK river flows for November 2014
2014 on its way to being the warmest year on record
The Opera House in Lille, the capital of French Flanders
UK and France come together in Lille for international conference
Flood risk map data product
Digital flood risk maps for Scotland and Northern Ireland
Ganges near Haridwar. Photo: Mike Acreman
CEH goes to India to discuss local water resources
Clatto reservoir on a sunny day
Providing the evidence for water managers to implement lake restoration programmes