River management

May 28, 1999

JIF is not just helping scientists in their bid to clean up and understand coastal waters. Rather, a separate grant has paved the way for new research on river management.

A Pounds 4 million grant from JIF is helping to create the UK's first national infrastructure for catchment hydrology experiments, providing research equipment and facilities to monitor seven UK rivers and their associated basins intensively.

Imperial College in London is co-ordinating the programme in the South, where several lowland rivers are to be intensively monitored, while Newcastle University is taking the lead in the North.

Howard Wheater, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Imperial College and the leader of the lowland project, explains that there is a lack of basic science research concerning lowland river catchments.

What is therefore being proposed is an integrated monitoring package for the seven rivers, where researchers monitor everything from the inputs to the catchment delivered through weather systems and rainfall, to the through-flows such as streams and groundwater, and the outputs, including abstraction.

In the lowland regions, the Natural Environment Research Council is to launch a new Pounds 8 million thematic programme inviting related research proposals.

The projects will integrate the physical, biological and chemical sides of the systems, with equipment for everything from river flow measurements and automatic weather stations, to salmon counters and fish radio tracking.

Professor Wheater said: "Basically we need new and better tools to help us manage these systems. We need a better understanding of the science, particularly at the interface between hydrology and ecology. But we also need more details about things such as how pollutants move through chalk. There's a lot of basic research to be done."

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