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School of Geography

Stephanie Bond Stephanie Bond

Contact details

School of Geography
University of Leeds
University Road
Leeds LS2 9JT   UK



Project title

The hydrological function of organo-mineral soils in downstream flood risk

Project overview

Organo-mineral soils cover around 20 % of the UK, and are particularly common in upland areas with the main types being stagnohumic gleys and acid brown earths. Unlike peatlands, the function and hydrology of organo-mineral soils is globally very poorly understood with major gaps in the literature. These soils typically underlie upland heathland and grasslands in areas with high conservation value. It is unclear whether these soils are dominated by throughflow (and what their typical permeability range is), infiltration-excess overland flow or saturation-excess overland flow in different topographic contexts and rainfall events. It is also unclear how management of organo-mineral soils impacts their role in runoff generation.

This project seeks to understand hydrological processes operating in upland organo-mineral soils in the Lake District, and how their management and vegetation cover influences river flow peaks. Specifically, the design will incorporate soils in various states of degradation, covered by high quality Atlantic Heath (dense dwarf shrubs with an understory of mosses), poor Atlantic heath, good acid grassland and acid grassland that has heavy grazing. This will directly provide urgently needed evidence for management of upland soils for flood peak reduction, where upland flooding in December 2015 alone caused >£2 billion in losses.


  • Measure and determine the dominant hydrological pathways in organo-mineral soils (e.g. overland flow, subsurface flow) through monitoring of flow volumes / rates, moisture content, water-table depths and hydraulic conductivity;
  • Conduct experimental overland flow velocity measurements by supplying water to plots and measuring the velocities for different slope angles, flow depths and vegetation conditions
  • Modify a new spatially-distributed version of TOPMODEL (Gao et al, 2015) and use the model to test for the role of spatial organo-mineral land cover-scenarios in reducing downstream flow peaks.


Joseph Holden

Mike Kirkby

Jean Johnston (Natural England)

Alistair Crowle (Natural England)

Cluster & research affiliations

River Basins Processes and Management



NERC Industrial CASE studentship with Natural England

Previous qualifications

  • 2016 – 2017: MPhil ‘Assessing the fate of metaldehyde applied to arable soils’ – pesticide degradation research project undertaken with Anglian Water and the University of Leicester
  • 2013 – 2016: BSc (Hons.) Geography, University of Leicester. Including a water quality and ecology research project with the Broads Authority and Environment Agency

Awards, grants, prizes


  • Anglian Water Research Symposium, Peterborough, 22nd February 2017. ‘Assessing the fate of metaldehyde applied to arable soils’ (Poster and presentation).


  • 2016: Brue May Dissertation Prize for the best Physical Geography dissertation, achieving 88%
  • 2015: John H. Paterson Prize for the best second year student dissertation proposal grade in Geography, achieving 95%. 


  • Acknowledged as a contributor to the Broads Authority Annual Macrophyte Survey 2015

Conferences/training courses attended


  • 18th UKYWP conference, University of Bath 10th-12th April 2017
  • Anglian Water Research Symposium, Peterborough, 22nd February 2017