Our experienced team of academic and research staff lead a wide range of research projects and conduct consultancy work both in the UK and internationally. Staff at the centre work both as lone researchers on small projects as well as leading and collaborating on multi-million pound research grants with external academic, industrial, governmental and non-governmental partners. In addition, members of the Centre operate continuous environmental monitoring stations. The centre is also home to research students working on aquatic research projects.
The centre has access to state-of-the-art research facilities on the Moulsecoomb site, including specialist microbial and water quality laboratories, an experimental river basin, a water efficiency laboratory, as well as a large array of field equipment. All of these facilities are supported by a team of laboratory and workshop technicians. Field and laboratory facilities are used to support activities across our research themes, but are also used by visiting scholars and industry for collaborative projects and consultancy.
Public health and water quality
The centre has specialist facilities used for research into the transmission of pathogens and faecal indicator organisms in aquatic, marine and terrestrial environments, including a Category-2 Microbiology Laboratory. This laboratory houses a selection of molecular and non-molecular facilities for the routine isolation and enumeration of microorganisms. Key equipment includes centrifuges, autoclaves, -80ºC freezers, incubators, hybridisation ovens, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) equipment, and a UV cross-linker.
Geochemistry and mineralogy
The centre has a range of cutting-edge analytical equipment used to characterise the geochemistry and mineralogy of aquatic substrates and sediments. These are housed in a series of newly built research laboratories. Key equipment items include:
- X'pert Pro X-ray Diffractometer used for mineralogical analyses.
- X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer used for bulk chemical analysis of rocks and sediments.
- AAS, ICP-MS, ICP-OES and Flame Photometer used for chemical analysis of solutions and natural waters.
- Shimadzu Carbon Analyser for the analysis of organic and inorganic carbon in water and sediment.
- Gas chromatographs used for the analysis of organic chemicals.
- Gamma ray spectrometer used for radiometric dating of recent sediments.
- A Malvern Mastersizer 2000 Laser Particle Size Analyser capable of measuring grain sizes down to 0.02 µm for the characterisation of fine-grained sediments.
Microscopy and microanalysis
The centre also has access to research-grade facilities for the micro-scale analysis of microflora/fauna, rocks, minerals, soils and sediments. These are housed in recently opened research laboratories.
- The new Microscope Suite contains a research specification Nikon E400 petrological microscope and Nikon stereomicroscope, both with camera attachments, plus a Nikon E600 microscope fitted with a LINKAM MDS600 heating-freezing stage for microthermometric work.
- The Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) Suite contains two SEMs used for microanalytical investigations of a wide range of environmental materials.
Field equipment and monitoring sites
The centre has advanced field equipment for water, mineral and geochemical chemical analyses, ecological investigations, topographic surveying, coring and geophysics. A few of the key items are listed below:
- Drones (or small-Unmanned Aircraft Systems) – including Sensefly, eBee Plus; DJI Inspire; and Parrot Bebop 2 systems for the capture of multispectral imagery, 3-dimensional modelling and FPV/video footage.
- Coastal and estuarine monitoring – 3m inflatable dinghy with outboard motor; RDI acoustic Doppler current profiler; Seabird conductivity-temperature-depth probe; Aquaread and YSI multi-parameter sondes; load cells and displacement transducers; wave staffs for inshore wave measurements; electromagnetic current meters.
- Ecological and hydrological survey - aquatic ecological survey equipment; piezometers, pressure transducers and data loggers; infiltrometers, portable water quality analysers.
- Geophysics – Differential GPS, EM31 ground conductivity meter; portable gamma-ray spectrometer; Proton precession magnetometer; ABEM Terrameter resistivity system.
Members of the Centre for Aquatic Environments operate continuous environmental monitoring stations for our research on wetlands (eg. Amberley, with the RSPB), coastal environments (eg. Medmerry - the largest open coast managed realignment site in Europe - with the Environment Agency), groundwater aquifers (eg. South Downs/Patcham catchment) and freshwater ecosystems (UK-wide).