Water Science

The Water Sciences group undertakes pure and applied research to help improve our understanding of processes that control the movement, availability and quality of water, and the modelling of their influence on other environmental systems.

We work in a broad range of environments: from headwater streams, through agricultural soils, tropical rainforests, deep groundwater, lakes, rivers and wetlands, to the coastal waters.

Through the development of scientific tools and techniques within the group, we are able to solve problems related to water the management of water, coastal and aquatic environments in the UK and overseas.

We are committed to providing high-quality training for students and industry, an example of which is our accredited postgraduate training in flood, coastal risk and water management with industry partner JBA.

Our approach to tackling our research problems is often highly interdisciplinary, working alongside aquatic chemists and ecologists, plant and soil scientists, biogeochemists, social scientists, members of the worldwide water industry and policymakers. Our research findings are often a result of combined laboratory experimentation, field observations and modelling.

We have extensive laboratory and field facilities and access to a wide range of UK and overseas research observatories.

Examples of our current research include:

  • Quantifying likelihood of widespread and extreme flooding, in collaboration with Lancaster statisticians and industry partner JBA to underpin government's national review of flood resilience.
  • The transport and fate of macronutrients at the groundwater-surface water interface.
  • Understanding the impact of changes in land management in the Chinese Loess Plateau on water quality and availability.
  • Development of methods to optimise the effectiveness of nature-based measures for reducing flood risk at catchment scales.
  • Improved quantification of dynamic rainfall vs catchment controls on flood response using Lancaster’s data science tools.
  • Development of geophysical techniques for mapping crop water uptake.
  • Understanding interactions of renewable energy devices with marine and fresh-water environments.
  • Understanding generation mechanisms of extreme waves.
  • Development and application of remote sensing techniques for quantitative assessments of coastal vulnerability and resilience to storms, climate and man-made changes.
  • Improving the design of coastal protection and coastal management through numerical and physical modelling of near shore coastal processes.
  • High-frequency monitoring and dynamic data science modelling of water quality and hydrology that underpins biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • Laboratory flume studies of flow-biota interactions and their hydrodynamic and ecological implications (notably seagrasses and bivalve filter feeders).
  • Field, laboratory and modelling studies of hydraulics-macrophyte interactions in rivers, in search of the optimal balance between flow conveyance and ecological health.
  • The impact of invasive species (notably Himalayan balsam) on river channel soil properties and erodibility.
  • Modelling the (climate change-influenced) impact of changing patterns of mixing and stratification in lakes on plankton population dynamics.

People

Group Leader

Energy Lancaster, Innovation for a better environment, Sustainable Catchments, Understanding a changing planet, Water Science

+44 (0)1524 593927 B539, B - Floor, LEC 1 & 2

Improving global stewardship, Innovation for a better environment, Sustainable Catchments, Understanding a changing planet, Water Science

+44 (0)1524 593933 A508, A - Floor, LEC 1 & 2

Improving global stewardship, Sustainable Catchments, Understanding a changing planet, Water Science

+44 (0)1524 593893 B509, B - Floor, LEC 1 & 2

Centre for Global Eco-innovation , Energy Lancaster, Innovation for a better environment, Sustainable Catchments, Understanding a changing planet, Water Science

+44 (0)1524 510264

Modelling and Inference, Sustainable Catchments, Water Science

+44 (0)7866 715761

Energy Lancaster, Improving global stewardship, Sustainable Catchments, Understanding a changing planet, Water Science

+44 (0)1524 593973 A514a, A - Floor, LEC 1 & 2

Publications

Projects

Q-NFM : Quantifying the likely magnitude of nature-based flood mitigation effects across large catchments
01/11/2017 → 30/09/2021
Research

Chappell - CWC Extension Grant
01/10/2014 → 31/03/2015
Research

Resilience of Artificial Gravel Beach and Implications for Coastal Management
01/10/2014 → 30/09/2015
Research

Exploiting root exudation of organic acids and phytases to enhance plant utilisation of soil phosphorus
31/03/2014 → 31/08/2017
Research

Sediment source tracing, the Tamar basin
03/03/2014 → …
Research

Hydrological and carbon services in the western Ghats
01/03/2014 → 30/08/2016
Research

Magnetic particles in human brains
03/02/2014 → …
Research

Third International Tropical Hydrology Workshop
01/06/2013 → 30/11/2013
Research

Algal Interactions with Freshwater Mussels in the River Ehen
22/03/2013 → 31/03/2019
Research

Knowledge Policy and Practice for Sustainable Nutrient and Water Resources Protection in UK and Chinese Agro-Ecosystems
01/02/2013 → 31/03/2016
Research

The Consortium on Risk in the Environment: Diagnostics, Integrationg, Benchmarking, Learning and Elicitation (CREDIBLE)
01/01/2013 → 31/01/2017
Research

Enhancing crop quality and diminishing water use in bedding plants
01/10/2012 → 30/09/2015
Research

The of Lateral Exchange in Modulating the Seaward Flux of CNP
01/10/2012 → 31/12/2015
Research

ERDF funded Centre for Global Eco-Innovation: Recovery, Reuse and Sustainable Treatment of Glycol Contaminated Surface Water Run-off at Airports.
30/09/2012 → …
Research

Strategy of hydrological modelling development: future directions and approaches
01/07/2012 → 30/11/2014
Research

Implementing Component 2 of Demonstration Test Catchments
01/06/2012 → 30/09/2017
Research

Diversity in Upland Rivers for Ecosystem Service Sustainability - DURESS
01/05/2012 → 30/06/2016
Research

Chinese Academy of Sciences Collaboration
01/04/2012 → 31/03/2018
Research

Landscape burden and storm driven delivery of E.coli from land to water in a headwater catchment
12/03/2012 → 29/02/2016
Research

Biodiversity and the water cycle
27/02/2012 → 15/07/2012
Research

FP7: ROOTOPOWER: Empowering root targeted strategies to minimize abiotic stress impacts on horticultural crops
01/01/2012 → 31/12/2015
Research

Delivering Healthy Water: building the science-policy interface to protect bathing water quality
01/10/2011 → 31/03/2013
Research

A United Kingdom Lake Ecological Obsevatory Network
01/01/2011 → 31/05/2015
Research

NERC funded PhD studentship NE/I527953/1
01/01/2011 → 30/04/2015
Research

Catchment Modelling Strategies for Faecal Indicator Organisms: Options Review and Recommendations
01/09/2010 → 01/03/2011
Research

Nutrient biogeochemistry (Phosphorus dynamics in groudwater-fed rivers)
01/06/2010 → 31/01/2015
Research

A new grid free, hysteric, and scale dependent approach to modelling hillslope hydrology
04/01/2010 → 30/06/2013
Research

Quantifying sensitivity of suspended sediment dynamics to environmental change within the upper Ramu
15/03/2009 → 14/03/2010
Research

FP7: IMPRINTS
15/01/2009 → 15/07/2012
Research

Implications of groundwater surface water connectivity for nitrogen transformations in the hyporheic zone
01/01/2009 → 30/04/2012
Research

Phosphorus dynamics in groundwater fed rivers
01/11/2008 → 31/10/2013
Research

Delivery of Phosphorus and Faecal Indicator Organisms from Agricultural Sources to Watercourses
01/07/2008 → 31/12/2013
Research

Lost in Translation: Cross - disciplinary analysis of knowledge exchange and effectiveness in animal disease management
01/07/2008 → 30/11/2011
Research

FP6: Governat
01/10/2006 → 30/09/2010
Research

Evaluation of mitigation options for reducing nutrient emission to surface water and groundwater at the river basin scale.
30/03/2006 → …
Research

Phosphorus Uncertainty Fellowship
20/12/2005 → 31/05/2012
Research

The Catchment Change Management Hub
01/01/1900 → …
Research

Research Highlights

Hydrology prizewinner
Student beats the odds to win recognition for his master’s dissertation and show that with the right support “you can do pretty much anything”

The global nitrate time-bomb
Researchers have quantified for the first time the long-term threat to global drinking water posed by agricultural pollution trapped in the rocks beneath our feet.

Does natural flood mitigation work?
Lancaster University scientists will play a leading role in a major new £4.1M project assessing the effectiveness of natural flood management.

Forest grazing and flood risk
Grazing animals within forests counteract the effectiveness of trees to reduce flood risk a new study shows.

Natural flood management
A new report reviews the role of trees in flood alleviation.

Natural flood management could have made a ‘significant difference’ during Storm Desmond
Extensive natural flood management such as tree planting could reduce flooding even in extreme events like Storm Desmond, according to a new modelling study.

Natural measures to prevent floods valuable but not ‘a silver bullet’, researchers say
Natural measures to manage flooding from rivers can play a valuable role in flood prevention, but a lack of monitoring means their true potential remains unclear, researchers say.

Total flood defence is a myth
Professor Keith Beven puts today’s floods into their historical context and argues that perhaps the problem is not so much poor flood defences but the fact we have so many people now living in floodplains. 

The British Hydrological Society awards Distinguished Professor Keith Beven the 2013 President’s Prize
Distinguished Professor Keith Beven (LEC) has been awarded the 2013 President’s Prize from the British Hydrological Society, awarded every two years in recognition of work which has advanced hydrology significantly.

Professor's "outstanding" work recognised
Professor Andrew Binley has been elected as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union for his “breakthrough” work in the field of hydrogeophysics.