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Mission 1: Undertake transformational fundamental and applied research that enables us to be at the heart of the global water research and innovation community

Changing climate and rainfall patterns, growing global populations, shifting land use patterns and increasing water consumption: the wide variety of experts operating across disciplines means water@leeds can rise to these challenges.

The water@leeds research community are inspired by the global and regional grand challenges for water. Addressing major research questions through the provision of coordination support, creation of an intellectually stimulating environment, promotion of activities and appointment of outstanding staff to deliver world-leading research, will help to realise our core aims of delivering impact to varied end-users.

Research Highlights 2020

Current projects and research sub-groups are listed.

Climate change and biodiversity in river networks: H2020 DRYvER (Securing biodiversity, functional integrity and ecosystem services in DRYing riVER networks) project.

From October 2020,  Prof. Julia Martin-Ortega (PI), Dr. Thijs Dekker and Dr. Martin Dallimer will lead the analysis of the socio-economic strand of the Horizon 2020 DRYvER project, providing critical information for the design and implementation of innovative nature-based solutions to mitigate and adapt to impacts on these increasingly important ecosystems.  The aim of DRYvER is to collect, analyse and model data from nine case studies in Europe and South America to create a novel global meta-system approach that incorporates hydrology, socio-economics, ecology and biogeochemistry.


Congo River users Hydraulics and Morphology (CRuHM) & Congo River Islands Stability and Prospects (CRISP).

CRuHM is a Royal Society-DFID funded research capacity building project focused on the Congo River (2016-2021). Dr Mark Trigg is the water@leeds leader in a consortium including the Universities of Bristol, Kinshasa, Rhodes, and Dar es Salaam. The project is now in its final year, and the team are consolidating and processing all the field data collected from three years of major fieldwork on the river system. This work represents probably the largest scientific expedition focused on the main river in many decades, covering many thousands of kilometres of main channel by boat, and signifies a huge achievement in terms of new science data availability for this valuable river system.


Geophysical surveys to measure glacier hydrology.

In July 2019, Dr Adam Booth joined the EU-funded RESPONDER project, conducting experimental seismic surveys on Greenland's Store Glacier. This work used borehole deployments of a revolutionary 'fibre-optic' seismic system, in which seismic waves are detected from the deformation of a fibre-optic cable. The result was unprecedented insight into the in situ properties of the glacier ice, sharpening the focus of what geophysicists have previously been able to measure. Throughout 2020-2022, geophysicists from water@leeds will also be deployed to Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier, as part of the UK-US International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. This initiative answers an urgent call to understand the controls on the fast-flow regions of a major Antarctic ice mass, with potential implications for regional ice stability.


Ein Gedi and the human history of the Dead Sea. 

Dr Nir Arielli's project focuses on modern-day Kibbutz Ein Gedi, a socialist Israeli commune that was established in 1956. Surrounded by desert on three sides, the kibbutz has developed a complex relationship with its environment that has changed over time. If initially the early settlers sought to revive the agriculture that had flourished in Ein Gedi in ancient times, by the 1970s and 1980s the kibbutz increasingly came to rely on tourism. In recent decades, it has had to adapt to the fast retreating shoreline of the Dead Sea. This hydrological crisis spawned a geological problem that has stripped the kibbutz of many of its assets along the Dead Sea coast: sinkholes. Ein Gedi provides a fruitful case study to assess both humans’ impact on the environment and the changing environment’s impact on a human community in a region such as the Middle East where assessments of this kind are still uncommon.

water@leeds members have written 466 articles and 10 book/chapters.

More information can be found in the water@leeds Annual Report (Sway).