Popular Scientific Presentation

A forest-fenced watercourse. photo.

Society manages the environment for many reasons. Environmental Analysis seeks to provide an objective basis for management by describing the status of the environment, how that status changes over time, and the causes of those changes. Assessment of management alternatives and measures to counter unwanted environmental situations are another dimension of Environmental Analysis. Much of the work in this field at LUVAL concerns catchment-based assessments with a focus on water quality and the flow regime of running waters.  Distinguishing human influence in the form of pollution, land use and climate change are some of the major challenges. Our teaching enables students to apply state of the art knowledge in assessing changes in the environment. The role of critical thinking in the assessment of environmental quality and risks is emphasized. Some key areas of current research are:

Water and Climate: The “aquatic conduit” in the carbon cycle. Carbon is a key constituent of surface waters which is highly variable in space and time across stream networks. The inorganic carbon is continually evading from stream surfaces, and we are at the forefront of defining the dimensions of this major link in the global carbon cycle.

Water, Forests and Food Security. Forests are generally agreed to be a major influence on the water regime, but defining that influence remains a challenge. The Ethiopian highlands have lost almost all of their natural forest. We are working to help define how more forests might change the hydrological regime in the region from the perspective of food security.

Water pollution; environmental effects and countermeasures. Water management is the collective term used for synthesising studies with the aim of maintaining a suitable aquatic environment and water resources for future generations. We consider how the myriad of headwaters that criss-cross our landscape are influenced by air pollution, forestry, and climate, with mercury as an area of special interest.