Rivers have always, and will continue to be important for a range of economic, social and environmental reasons. However, there is a need to balance competing pressures, with estuaries being a unique challenge - complex ecosystems linking the terrestrial and aquatic environments. Input of sediment from the river, shelter from wave action, modifications for shipping, and low current flows can lead to stagnant polluted sediments. In industrial rivers this sediment can degrade habitats and biota, whilst also adversely affecting the navigability of the river and its environmental quality. Polluted sediments are dredged for shipping, but there are quotas on sea disposal. Sea level rise and climate-induced changes in river flows will influence the system and remobilisation of sediments. There is a misunderstanding of how dynamic the system is, and significant gaps in our understanding of when deposition and remobilisation is likely to occur; quotas have led to trials in alternative methods of remediation and disposal, but the long-term viability and impacts unknown. This project will focus on the River Tyne, a representative industrial river that suffers from contaminated sediment, predominantly heavy metals from former lead and zinc mines in its headwaters. It will develop a conceptual model of the estuary system to represent the dynamic nature its sediment regime, taking into account the quantity of sediment being transported via internal entrainment and that being introduced from the land. The project will design a monitoring campaign and methodology to record dynamic sediment accumulation and sample for sediment and water quality variables. Sampling will take place at approximately 10 bioremediation sites that are being designed as mitigation features to address habitat degradation from an Environment Agency perspective, and improving navigability to service industrial growth, sediment discharge limits, implications for dredging, and subsequent disposal of contaminated sediment, from the Port of Tyne’s point of view. A continuous monitoring approach will advance the usual one-off sampling and provide a spring board for future studies and advanced modelling and simulation capabilities. Newcastle’s Urban Observatory and National Green Infrastructure Facility will provide a match contribution in sensors and access to the new laboratory facilities for sediment and water quality analysis, creating a long-term monitoring investment and open data platform.
Knowledge of hydrology, geomorphology, statistical modelling and experience in field work would be desirable.
This project is part of the ONE Planet DTP. Find out more here: View Website