Welcome to our blog!

Hi there and welcome to our new blog site for the Water Sciences Group at the University of Birmingham. We are a group of researchers who are interested in all things watery from ecology to water chemistry to hydrology and on! We hope that this page will be a place where we can discuss issues and advances in the science, provide some details of the research that we are doing and keep everyone informed of conferences, publications and such like that are coming up. Please feel free to post as much or as little as you want.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Next Seminar: Monday 26th November

Environmental Flows for Heavily Modified Catchments: getting real!
Geoff Petts, University of Westminster

Flow management to protect environmental services within riverine ecosystems below dams and abstractions remains a challenge despite more than three decades of research. This presentation returns to some basic hydrological questions, examining the UK practice of using the 95th percentile flow as the basis for setting 'hands-off flows' at abstractions and 'compensation flows' below dams. It then proposes the use of more flexible rules to mimic natural flow patterns with benefits to both riverine biota and abstractors in a future of hydrological uncertainty.

The seminar will be held in room 311 of the Geography and Environmental Sciences building at 4pm. All are welcome to attend.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Next Seminar: Monday 12th November

Applied Hydroecology at the Envrionment Agency
Mark Warren, Environment Agency

The seminar will be held in room 311 of the Geography and Environmental Sciences building between 4 and 5pm. All are welcome to attend.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Next seminar: Monday 29th October

Atmospheric Rivers and British Winter Floods
David Lavers, University of Reading

Damage from flooding in the winter and autumn seasons has been widespread in the United Kingdom and Western Europe over recent decades. In this seminar the connection between atmospheric rivers (ARs) and the largest winter floods in a range of British basins will be discussed from a hydrological and atmospheric stand-point. Firstly, an analysis of the hydrological time series is used to evaluate atmospheric fields before the largest floods to show the AR-flood link. Secondly, an algorithm is introduced that screens for ARs in climate model output; this is followed by showing the strong connection between the identified ARs and British winter floods. Future changes to ARs under climate change will also be considered.

The seminar will be held in room 311 of the Geography and Environmental Sciences Building between 4 and 5 pm. All are welcome to attend.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Next seminar: Monday 15th October

Research priorities within the Environment Agency- an introduction to evidence partnerships
Chris Fulton, Evidence Advisor, Environment Agency

Chris' talk will focus on:
  •          An outline of the Environment Agency’s science structure
  •          Details of the Environment Agency’s research priorities and evidence requirements
  •          Current avenues for forming research partnerships between Universities & the Environment Agency

The seminar will be held in room 125 in the Geography and Environmental Sciences building between 4 and 5pm. All are welcome to attend.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Seminar Series 2012/13

All seminars are held in the Geography and Environmental Sciences building. Contact Grace Garner (gxg627@bham.ac.uk) for more information or to volunteer a session

Mon 15th Oct, 4-5pm, Room 125
Research priorities within the Environment Agency- an introduction to evidence partnerships
Chris Fulton, Evidence Advisor, Environment Agency

Mon 29th Oct, 4-5pm, Room 311
Atmospheric Rivers and British Winter Floods
David Lavers, University of Reading

Mon 12th Nov, 4-5pm, Room 125
Topic tbc
Mark Warren, Environment Agency

Mon 26th Nov, 4-5pm, Room 311
Environmental Flows for Heavily Modified Catchments: getting real!
Geoff Petts, University of Westminster

Mon 21st Jan, 4-5pm, Room 311
Topic tbc
Martin Widmann, University of Birmingham

Mon 4th Feb, 4-5pm, Room 311
Topic tbc
Andrew Allen, University of Dundee

Mon 18th Feb, 4-5pm, Room 311
Topic tbc
Ian Pattison, Loughborough University

Mon 4th Mar, 4-5pm, Room 311

Mon 11th Mar, 4-5pm, Room 311
Climate Change, Hydro-dependency and the African Dam Boom
Robert Elliot, University of Birmingham

Mon 18th Mar, 4-5pm, Room 311

Monday 20th May, 4-5pm, Room 311
Impacts of Large Woody Debris on geomorphology and flood hydrology
Simon Dixon, University of Southampton

Monday 3rd June, 4-5pm, Room 311
Facing the future: climate change adaptation strategies for the conservation management of Scotland's lochs
Martin Muir, Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience

Thursday, 24 May 2012

New position at CEH, Wallingford; DEADLINE June 15th

Just advertised on the CEH website, deadline for application is June 15th. UoB GEES alumnus is currently working there. http://www.ceh.ac.uk/personnel/Hydrological-Data-Scientist.html

Recent paper in Journal of Environmental Quality

Recent paper in the Journal of Environmental Quality (co-published by the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America) co-authored by Cedric Laize (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology/University of Birmingham).


Piniewski, Mikolaj; Laize, Cedric L.R.; Acreman, Michael C.; Okruszko, Tomasz; Schneider, Christof. 2012 Effect of climate change on environmental flow indicators in the Narew Basin, Poland. Journal of Environmental Quality. 10.2134/jeq2011.0386

Environmental flows, the quantity of water required to maintain a river ecosystem in its desired state, are of particular importance in areas of high natural value. Water-dependent ecosystems are exposed to the risk of climate change through altered precipitation and evaporation. Rivers in the Narew basin in northeastern Poland are known for their valuable river and wetland ecosystems, many of them in pristine or near-pristine condition. The objective of this study was to assess changes in the environmental flow regime of the Narew river system, caused by climate change, as simulated by hydrological models with different degrees of physical characterization and spatial aggregation. Two models were assessed: the river basin scale model Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) and the continental model of water availability and use WaterGAP. Future climate change scenarios were provided by two general circulation models coupled with the A2 emission scenario: IPSL-CM4 and MIROC3.2. To assess the impact of climate change on environmental flows, a method based conceptually on the “range of variability” approach was used. The results indicate that the environmental flow regime in the Narew basin is subject to climate change risk, whose magnitude and spatial variability varies with climate model and hydrological modeling scale. Most of the analyzed sites experienced moderate impacts for the Generic Environmental Flow Indicator (GEFI), the Floodplain Inundation Indicator, and the River Habitat Availability Indicator. The consistency between SWAT and WaterGAP for GEFI was medium: in 55 to 66% of analyzed sites, the models suggested the same level of impact. Hence, we suggest that state-of-the- art, high-resolution, global- or continental-scale models, such as WaterGAP, could be useful tools for water management decisionmakers and wetland conservation practitioners, whereas models such as SWAT should serve as a complementary tool for more specific, smaller-scale, local assessments.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Stephanie Handley-Sidhu (GEES), with Lynne Macaskie (Biosciences) and Joe Hriljac (Chemistry) visited Japan for knowledge exchange as part of the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency funded REIMEI grant (Joanna Renshaw; co-investigator).
Steph and Lynne presented at the International Seminar Series on Environmental Radioactivity (Hakkaido, Sapporo). The aim of the meeting was to open up international scientific discussions about remediation of problematic radionuclides at Fukushima. This meeting was attended by students, academics and representatives from the nuclear industry (including TEPCO and IAEA).
Steph, Lynne and Joe gave invited seminars at the 4th Advanced Science Research Center international Workshop at the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (Tokai, Ibaraki). This subject of the workshop was the interaction of radionuclides by micro-organisms, clays and plants. Attendees were also given the opportunity to visit the recently decontaminated Fukushima University and a contaminated Namie high school situated just meters away from the no-go zone. Geiger counting showed that at this high school radiation of surfaces was up to 50x natural background radiation, whereas, permanent air monitoring gave reading close to natural levels. Members of this workshop also experienced a category 6 earthquake on the 14th of March while having dinner, which was close to the anniversary of lasts years devastating quake. A sleepless night followed due to aftershocks.
Finally, Steph and Lynne ended their epic tour with invited seminars at Kyushu University on using microbes and biominerals to remediate problematic radionuclides. They also found time to stop briefly at the Hiroshima memorial park, placing 1000 cranes in memory of the atomic bomb victims. The trip home was preceded by a formal presentation to the JAEA REIMEI Evaluation board both to present on the activities carried out during the 2011/2012 award and to present plans for an extension for a second year, in which real trials of bionanomaterials developed at Birmingham University ‘on site’ at Fukushima are envisaged

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

AGU 2011

The Water Sciences research group was well represented at AGU 2011.

David Hannah gave an invited talk in a session on understanding hydrologic change entitled “European river flow regimes: space time-dynamics and links to large-scale climate”. Stefan Krause delivered an invited talk in a session on ground water surface-water interactions that sought to answers the question: “Hot moments and hot spots in hyporheic nutrient transformation – To what degree does small-scale variability control stream-reach attenuation potential?”. Stefan was co-author on another invited talk about “Development and application of a heat pulse sensor for in-situ measurement of hyporheic flow”.

Several poster presentations were made across a range of water-related topics (with Birmingham authors) including:

  • Assessing future changes in pan-European environmental flows (Cedric Laizé and David Hannah)
  • Nested heat tracer experiments for identifying heterogeneity of aquifer-river exchange at multiple scales (Stefan Krause and David Hannah)
  • Ocean-atmosphere forcing of summer streamflow drought in Great Britain (David Hannah)
  • Space-time variability in river flow regimes of northeast Turkey (Faize Şaris, David Hannah and Warren Eastwood)
  • The climatic sensitivity of river temperature regimes in England and Wales (Grace Garner, David Hannah and Jon Sadler)
  • Water Temperature Dynamics in High Arctic River Basins (Phil Blaen, David Hannah and Sandy Milner)