Catchments host the infrastructure and industry associated with farms, villages and cities all of which have downstream consequences on water flows and quality.
Such consequences can manifest in the rivers, lakes or estuaries or on the flood plain, resulting in flooding, drought or pollution. What makes this so difficult to untangle is that ‘causes’ and ‘effects’ are often temporally and spatially disconnected.
Our LEC Sustainable Catchments Challenge uses science, scholarship and innovation to address the complexities that link the upstream causes to the downstream impacts. We bring together University-wide disciplines that includes soil and plant science, biogeochemistry, ecology, hydrology, modelling, social science and computer science, to tackle these issues in the face of large global pressures.
Some particular areas of focus are:
- Managing catchments to promote agriculture and food production, but to minimize diffuse pollution from nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and other substances. This involves innovation to seek new soil and plant solutions to efficiently use nutrients, as well as testing ways to trap pollutants in the catchment.
- Managing water for flood prevention that includes designing crops and landscapes to mitigate the effects of flooding, as well as producing models to help inform decisions.
- Determining the effects of climate change on Sustainable Catchments.
- Managing a collaborative National Demonstration Test Catchment (DTC) for in the River Eden, to influence policy for the Government. This also serves as a ‘platform’ for hosting undergraduate and postgraduate projects, and levers additional funding from the Research Councils and business.