Assessing global biogeochemical cycles and the sources, fate and effects of pollutants

Biogeochemistry is the study of the processes and reactions that govern the composition of the natural environment. These processes may be chemical, physical, geological and/or biological; the definition of natural environment encompasses water, soil, air, living organisms and the Earth's crust.

CEH’s Biogeochemistry research aims to improve knowledge of biogeochemical cycles and their role in ecosystem functions and services through undertaking monitoring programmes, large-scale field experiments and developing and utilising modelling tools. Through these mechanisms the research quantifies perturbations of biogeochemical cycles (e.g. as a result of land use change and climate change) and models these to identify the implications for natural resources such as soil and biota. Monitoring of targeted biogeochemical processes is carried across the UK, with some datasets containing over 40 years of data – see our Monitoring Maps for details. Integrated risk assessment tools, strategies and control measures are developed to help protect and enhance ecosystem function for the future.

The research and data gathered by our Biogeochemistry science is used for a variety of purposes, such as informing government policy, demonstrating UK compliance with international commitments and for blue skies research.

Research topics

Our Biogeochemistry research is delivered through three interacting topics that focus on detecting environmental changes, identifying the causes of change and where possible developing solutions to minimise the impact of change. These topics are:

  • BG-1 Monitoring and interpretation of biogeochemical and climate changes
  • BG-2 Biogeochemistry and climate system processes
  • BG-3 Managing threats to environment and health

These topics also inform and are informed by their Biodiversity and Water counterparts, and data-rich projects work closely with the Environmental Information Data Centre



Areas of research

Examples of research projects include:

Collaborative research

Our Biogeochemistry scientists participate in consortium research and undertake collaborative research with many UK partners in the university sector and institutes throughout Europe. Some examples include the Air Pollution Information System, Nitro Europe IP, the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, the UK Research on the Eutrophication and Acidification of Terrestrial Ecosystems. Please click here for more information.

CEH is also involved in many EU Infrastructures projects. Click here for more information.