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Taking a high frequency pulse of rivers: the new wave of water-quality and pollution checks to support integrated real-time river basin management

Project Description

Pollution and water quality concerns within river networks are one of the biggest environmental and health problems facing the planet, impacting water, food, and ecosystem security. However, we are currently experiencing a technological revolution in environmental monitoring, changing paradigms in water quality and pollution sensing to new frontiers that open up unprecedented opportunities for taking the pulse of water quality extremes in complex landscapes. Instead of taking water samples in the field and transporting them back into the laboratory for subsequent analysis, the recent sensor revolution enables the monitoring of water quality in-situ, that is, in real-time and directly where it occurs. These technological advances enable to not only efficiently monitor the continuous long-term behaviour of water quality and pollution transport but also to more adequately capture the event characteristics of dynamic flow and pollution events, including water quality extremes. This project will work at the forefront of these developments to directly improve the way we detect, monitor, and prevent pollution of river networks.

Recent interdisciplinary research has triggered the development of useful metrics for the identification of pollution source zone activation in river basins. However, so far such analyses have been limited to the monitoring of single pollutants and single locations.

This PhD project will pioneer the combined and integrated development of novel types of water quality sensor networks and numerical models of in order improve the mechanistic understanding of the evolution of source area activation across the catchment continuum. It will therefore push current paradigms in in-situ water quality monitoring technologies (such as absorbance and fluorescence probes, as well as river basin scale water quality monitoring in order to identify event-based dynamics of pollution sources. The findings of this study will directly support the development of more evidence based prediction and management of river basin management.

Funding Notes

CENTA studentships are for 3.5 years and are funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). In addition to the full payment of their tuition fees, successful candidates will receive the following financial support.
• Annual stipend, set at £15,009 for 2019/20
• Research training support grant (RTSG) of £8,000


Mao F., Khamis K., Krause S., Clark J., Hannah D.M. (2019). Low-Cost Environmental Sensor Networks: Recent Advances and Future Directions. Frontiers in Earth Science. 7, 221, DOI=10.3389/feart.2019.00221
Comer-Warner S., Ullah S., Kettridge N., Gooddy D., Krause S. (2019). Seasonal variability of sediment controls on carbon cycling in an agricultural stream. Science of the Total Environment. 688, 732-741,
Qiu, H., Blaen, P., Comer‐Warner, S., Hannah, D. M., Krause, S., & Phanikumar, M. S. (2019). Evaluating a coupled phenology – surface energy balance model to understand stream – subsurface temperature dynamics in a mixed‐use farmland catchment. Water Resources Research, 55.
Singh, T., Wu, L., Gomez‐Velez, J. D., Lewandowski, J., Hannah, D. M., & Krause, S. (2019). Dynamic hyporheic zones: Exploring the role of peak flow events on bedform‐induced hyporheic exchange. Water Resources Research, 55, 218–235.
Wu, L., Singh, T., Gomez‐Velez, J. D., Nutzmann, G., Wörman, A., Krause, S., & Lewandowski, J. (2018). Impact of dynamically changing discharge on hyporheic exchange processes under gaining and losing groundwater conditions. Water Resources Research, 54, 10,076–10,093.
Mao F., Clark J., Buytaert W., Krause S., Hannah D.M. (2018). Water sensor network applications: time to move beyond the technical? Hydrological Processes.32: 2612–2615.
Blaen, P. J., K. Khamis, C. Lloyd, S. Comer-Warner, F. Ciocca, R. M. Thomas, A. R. MacKenzie, and S. Krause (2017), High-frequency monitoring of catchment nutrient exports reveals highly variable storm event responses and dynamic source zone activation, J. Geophys. Res. Biogeosci., 122, 2265–2281, doi:10.1002/2017JG003904.
Blaen P., Brekenfeld N., Comer-Warner S., Krause S. (2017). Multitracer Field Fluorometry: Accounting for Temperature and Turbidity Variability during Stream Tracer Tests. Water Resources Research, 53,
Krause S., Lewandowski J., Grimm N., Hannah D.M., Pinay G., Turk V., Argerich A., Sabater F., Fleckenstein J., Schmidt C., Battin T., Pfister L., Martí E., Sorolla A., Larned S., Turk V. (2017) Ecohydrological interfaces as critical hotspots for eocsystem functioning. Water Resources Research. 53, 6359–6376, doi:10.1002/2016WR019516.
Blaen P., Khamis K., Lloyd C. E.M., Bradley C., Krause S. (2016) Real-time monitoring of nutrients and dissolved organic matter in rivers: adaptive sampling strategies, technological challenges and future directions. Science of the Total Environment. 569–570, 647-660, doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.06.116

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