Environmental Processes and Change

This research theme concerns itself with the processes that either drive or are affected by environmental change. The understanding of these processes leads to proxies that are used to reconstruct past environmental change over a range of spatial and temporal scales. Key research areas in this theme include Biogeochemistry, Catchment System Science Quaternary Science and Geochronology and Climate Adaptation.

In Biogeochemistry we study the biological and (geo)-chemical processes that are part of the earth system. We focus on earth system-climate interactions from Quaternary to contemporary timescales using a range of techniques including carbon and nitrogen fluxes, stable isotopes and organic geochemical lipid biomarkers.

Research in Catchment System Science (CSS) focusses on the transfer of sediments and solutes in catchments as they directly influence river morphology, water quality, habitat conditions and biogeochemical cycles. Research is undertaken using a variety of field, experimental and modelling methodologies.

Given concerns over human-induced changes to the world’s climate over the next century our research in Quaternary Science and Geochronology (QSG) seeks to understand the causes of major climatic fluctuations throughout geological history in terms of the complex interactions and feedbacks between the atmosphere, oceans and terrestrial land surfaces. Our focus is the low-latitudes since the redistribution of heat from this zone to higher latitudes is a critical driver of global climatic change.

Climate Adaptation and building resilience to extreme weather events is a research theme driven by the need for sustainable responses to current and future environmental challenges. Our research in this area focuses on understanding the climate risk, impacts, opportunities and resilience associated with sensitive environments, using a variety of field-based, geospatial and modelling approaches.

California Drylands


Research in Environmental Processes and Change is supported by state of the art facilities including:

  • A dedicated Laboratory for Experimental Geomorphology, featuring a rainfall simulator and flume channel, specialist equipment for the high resolution measurement of surface topography and near-bed flow hydraulics.
  • An environmental stable isotope laboratory equipped with 2 stable isotope mass spectrometers and 2 GCMS systems.
  • An AQ2 Discrete Analyzer (SEAL Analytical) for the analysis of environmental samples.
  • An OSL dating facility.
  • Palaeoecology laboratory.
  • Light microscope facility.


Dr Mark Powell is a member of the NERC Peer Review College and Dr Mick Whelan is an editor of Soil Research.

NameResearch Interests
Professor Heiko Balzter Forest monitoring, Earth observation, Remote Sensing, Satellites, Deforestation, REDD+
Dr Juan Carlos Berrio Palaeoenvironmental Reconstructions, Climate Change, Palynology, Palaeoecology, Quaternary Environmental Change, South America
Dr Arnoud Boom Stable isotopes, Organic geochemistry, Climate change, Palaeohydrology, Amazon, Andes
Dr Andrew Carr Stable isotopes, Plant biomarkers, Palaeoecology, Palynology, Pyrolysis-GC/MS, Organic matter, Desert ecosystems
Dr Jörg Kaduk Climate and land cover change in Africa, Plant resource management, Biosphere-atmosphere interactions, Global carbon cycling, Ecosystem modelling, Carbon cycle modelling of the land biosphere

Dr Sue McLaren

Environmental change, Arid environments, Semi-arid environments, Pleistocene, Holocene, Geochemical sediments
Dr Mark Powell Cycling and transfer of sediment-associated contaminants
Dr Mick Whelan Mathematical modelling, Nitrous oxide emissions, Land use change, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Catchment biogeochemistry

For more information on this research theme please contact the theme leader Dr Mark Powell
Email: dmp6@le.ac.uk,
Telephone: + 44 (0)116 2523850

Photographer: Virginia Nicolas-Perea

Photographer: Virginia Nicolas-Perea

Share this page: