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School of Geography

River Basin Processes and Management

We seek to provide international leadership in understanding the environmental processes and feedbacks between water, sediment and solute fluxes in alpine, peatland, semi-arid, and marine environments under environmental change driven by climate or land management. To achieve this we will use and develop innovative observational science, modelling and experimental manipulative approaches in an integrated and interdisciplinary way. We aim to be recognised as one of the world’s leading research groups in the field as part of the water@leeds enterprise.

We have distinctive expertise in water resource management, biogeochemical cycling, hydrological processes, wetlands, terrain analysis and landform dynamics, as well as the impacts of climate change and land management on interactions between terrestrial and aquatic systems.  We have developed an international reputation for research with strong links to industry, and a track record for research council funding. We have hosted visitors from Italy, Spain and the USA and are developing a large postgraduate community. 

Our research interests

We are interested in the structure and composition of the Earth’s surface: its soils, vegetation and water bodies and the processes that actively cycle material through them.
Much of our work is concerned with assessing the impact of climate change, land management and atmospheric deposition on:

  • Nutrient cycling [e.g. biogeochemical cycles (carbon/nitrogen), contaminant release and water quality, diffuse and point-source pollutants, vegetation-wildfire interactions].
  • Hydrology [e.g. wetland processes, alpine stream ecosystems and their biodiversity, arctic and alpine river basin hydroecology, flooding (including mega-floods), snowmelt, snow avalanche processes].
  • Sediment dynamics [e.g. terrain analysis, upland erosion /sediment budgets, erosion in semi-arid environments, sediment transport pathways, slope-channel coupling].

We aim to address these issues at a variety of temporal and spatial scales, without sacrificing fundamental understanding at the hillslope and drainage basin level, and to develop methodologies to further this study.


Duncan Quincey has been awarded and Individual Teaching Development Grant by the Higher Education Academy worth £4950 to develop experiential learning tools for employability teaching. The work will be carried out in collaboration with a local company (MTa Learning) and will use our own undergraduates (in return for a small fee) to test the materials.

Duncan Quincey
has been invited to become an Associate Editor for the Journal of Geophysical Research (Earth Surface) and will take up the post from 01 July 2012.
Accepted paper:
Blaen, P.J., Hannah, D.M., Brown, L.E. & Milner, A.M. Water temperature dynamics in high Arctic river basins. Hydrological Processes.