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Environmental Science students team up with the Environment Agency

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Students on QMUL Geography’s Masters programme Integrated Management of Freshwater Environments teamed up with hydrometry and telemetry specialists from the Environment Agency for a field trip in the Thames catchment to find out about state-of-the-art stream gauging technologies.

Accurate river flow data are vital for understanding, predicting and preparing for flood events and the students were introduced to a range of different approaches to monitoring and measuring flows as well as visiting the Jubilee River flood alleviation channel.

The visit began at Maidenhead ultrasonic gauging station, where the students were introduced to the operation of the gauging station and discussed new technologies and data quality. They also received a demonstration of deployment of the ARC-boat – a new remote-controlled boat that uses acoustic signals to record flow velocities and calculate discharge at a river cross section.  

The group visited a crump weir gauging station and a Flood Warning Station and saw demonstrations of water level monitoring equipment and a handheld flow meter. The day finished at the Jubilee River flood alleviation channel, a man-made hydraulic channel designed to divert water from the River Thames to alleviate flooding in surrounding areas.

Dr Gemma Harvey, who leads the programme, said the field class was an ideal opportunity for the students to put their training into action. “Our MSc students have received scientific training in hydrology and flood risk modelling and management as part of their Masters degree, so it was great for them to get some insight into the operational procedures used by the Environment Agency,” she said. “The Hydrometry and Telemetry team gave really informative talks and demonstrations on cutting-edge equipment and were very approachable so the group were able to ask lots of questions about this vital work. It was a really interesting day and a great new addition to the MSc programme.”

The MSc students are now starting work on the dissertation projects, so many will be applying their new knowledge of flow data collection and quality control. The next field trip will be a residential field course on the Tagliamento River in Italy where students will explore fluvial processes in a highly dynamic near-natural river system and get to grips with some key field methods for freshwater environmental science.

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