Large-scale long-term monitoring and observation systems research

Our environmental monitoring and observation systems provide evidence on the causes, trends and consequences of change in ecosystems at a catchment and landscape scale and inform UK and European government policy, strategies and action.

Monitoring & Observation Systems Science Area Summary front cover

We aim to support the green economy, creating flexible, long-term, UK environmental surveillance systems. We combine the best of our existing hydrological, biogeochemical, and ecological observations and will be linked with models and tools to detect and understand change and help decision-makers assess policy and resource management options. Information on our air quality expertise is also available.

To achieve this, we work with data providers and users internationally and make use of existing capabilities wherever possible. We are also exploring approaches to measurement, analysis, up-scaling, down-scaling and modelling of whole ecosystems and landscapes.

This will enable us to:

  • „detect, quantify and interpret change and help decision-makers assess policy and resource management options by quantifying environmental change and its socio-economic impacts.
  • „deal with cross-sectoral issues by distinguishing between the effects of multiple drivers on multiple ecosystem services in complex landscapes.
  • „respond more rapidly to (unpredictable) future needs (e.g. as we have done in the past with issues such as volcanic ash, insect pollinators, drought impacts and ash dieback).

Within the next five years, we will develop a system that enables users to assess natural capital and ecosystem service delivery from terrestrial, freshwater and coastal landscapes in relation to environmental and sustainable development objectives. The resulting scientific knowledge and associated datasets will enable us to deliver information and decision support tools and applications to an expanding business sector looking to gain economic benefits from greener approaches.

Our Science Area Summary (download PDF, above right) outlines our future research objectives.

Key interactions with other CEH Science Areas

In particular we will work with: 

  • Natural Capital – to develop an observation system to map stock and change of ecosystem services in the UK and Europe and assess the effects of land use and land management change on natural capital and ecosystem services. 
  • Ecological Processes & Resilience – to develop observation systems and analytical methods to map ecosystem degradation and resilience, and provide warning of environmental tipping points.
  • Sustainable Land Management – to link observations to data-based models for forecasting the impact of multiple stressors using scenarios, policy options or management options specified by stakeholders.
  • „Environmental Informatics – to develop a robust data and information system combining our data and model outputs to provide indicators, trade-off visualisations, and information products.

We will also engage with the environmental business sector to help bring data products and tools to market and extend their impact (e.g. biodiversity or ecosystem service offsetting tools, decision-support tools for resource managers and policy).

Contact us

For general enquiries, please see our Contacts page

Science Area Lead

Business Development Manager

Science Coordinator

Dr David Roy

David Roy

Dr Joanne Chamberlain

Jo Chamberlain Photo: Heather Lowther

Dr Sarah Turner

Tel: +44 (0) 1491 838800
Tel: +44 (0) 1491 838800
Tel: +44 (0) 1491 838800



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