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

January 2015 river flows.
Most of the UK saw more than average rainfall
An algal bloom and boats
Projects to improve the quality of water bodies for drinking water and recreational use
Cefn Brywn crump weir on the river Wye
Experimental catchments and outdoor observatory within the headwaters of the rivers Severn and Wye
Cows by Esthwaite Water
International lakes research (March 2014 e-conference)
Soil water measurement
Simulates the resulting reactions of metals entering water and soil systems
Algal bloom in Esthwaite Water
Lake remediation by top-down and bottom-up management
Clatto reservoir on a sunny day
Assessing failure to control cyanobacteria using Phoslock®
Bassenthwaite Lake and surrounding countryside
Redressing the extinction of vendace
Man holding a brown trout caught at Loch Leven
OpenNESS project: Loch Leven case study
Identifies unit hydrographs and component flows from rainfall, evaporation and streamflow data
Drought cover
Provides estimates of river flows in the UK