From the catchment to the coast...
Climate change experts predict more intense rainfall for Wales in the future, resulting in cascading changes to run-off, river hydrology and geomorphology.
Research questions: How will increased run-off from urban areas and climate change impact upon river form and process? How can run-off be reduced to attenuate floods?
Potential project areas: Flood risk assessments | Estimations of suspended and bedload sediment transport | River erosion and rehabilitation | Geomorphic barriers to fish migration
Soil erosion has both on- and off-site implications. Locally, soil loss results in a decrease in fertility and vegetation cover. On the catchment-scale, enhanced sediment loads may result in a decrease in river navigability and an increase in river turbidity. Furthermore, suspended sediment is often associated with the transport of toxic contaminants and nutrients which are notoriously difficult to control, as their source is usually diffuse.
Research questions: How can soil loss be decreased in order to improve downstream water quality?
Potential project areas: Soil Erosion | Sediment Run-off | Impact of soil crusting & hydrophobicity on run-off | Fires | Footpath and recreational induced erosion | Pollution hydrology
Rivers provide a link between mountains and coastal estuaries and beaches. Consequently, activities far upstream may have impacts at the coast. Integrated catchment management acknowledges linkages in the landscape, and is a potential solution to realising long-term improvements in water quality, ecosystem biodiversity and geomorphic health.
Research questions: How can we improve estuarine health by improving land management? Or, how can we use natural ecosystems to attenuate nutrients before they enter the watercourse?
Potential project areas: Sediment sampling | Wetland rehabilitation and bioremediation | Catchment Management Plans | Trace contaminants from diffuse pollution sources | Heavy metal contamination of floodplains
The dynamism of coastal environments makes them extremely vulnerable to geomorphic change. While some change is natural, human-induced climate change and associated sea level rise provides a real challenge to individuals and businesses located on/near the coast, or those concerned with marine resources.
Research questions: How will coastal ecosystems be affected by rising sea levels, and how will this impact upon use of the small craft harbour?
Potential project areas: Geomorphic implications of sea level rise | Changes to estuary processes & morphology | Coastal Developments | Tourism & leisure activities