Diana E. K. McLaren

‌‌photo of Diana McLaren, PhD student - Biological & Environmental SciencesPhD Research Student

MSc Energy and the Environment (University of Stirling)
BSc (Hons) Environmental Science and Biology (University of Stirling) 

Prof David Copplestone (University of Stirling)
Dr Clare Wilson (University of Stirling)
Dr Joanna Wragg (British Geological Survey)
Dr Karen Johnson (Durham University)

Start Date: 1st October 2014

4B182 Cottrell Building
Biological & Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Natural Sciences
University of Stirling
Stirling, Scotland, FK9 4LA

tel: +44 (0)1786 467757
fax: +(44) 1786 467843 
email: d.e.mclaren@stir.ac.uk
Twitter: @dianamclaren

Research Project

The effects of climate-induced flood events on the mobility and bioaccessibility of potentially harmful elements

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that the number of extreme precipitation events will increase considerably by the end of the century for mid-latitude land masses. Consequently, flooding events in the UK are predicted to increase in frequency and magnitude. Flooding may provide links between source and receptors, potentially resulting in human and environmental health issues. Physical movement and deposition of sediment contaminated with potentially harmful elements (PHE) in floodplains can result in PHEs can entering storage and persisting for thousands of years. Floodplains may then act as a secondary source of pollution. As a result, receptor exposure to PHEs can occur via direct ingestion, dermal contact and inhalation. Transfer to foodstuffs in urban and peri-urban agriculture system is increasingly a problem.

It is known that the mobility of PHEs is affected by flooding; however most studies have determined absolute PHE concentrations only, so there is scope for improving our understanding of biogeochemical processes occurring during and after flood events. Characterising changes in, for example, the solid phase distribution and the bioaccessibility of chemical and biological contaminants before, during and after drying and wetting cycles will provide essential new knowledge of contaminant mobility and redistribution in catchments.

This project will take a geochemical and geomorphological approach to understand the behaviour and fate of PHEs within a catchment system and address the following aims:

  • Can we predict the sites in a catchment where significant re-suspension, physical redistribution, mobilisation and solubilisation of PHEs may occur under different flooding scenarios?
  • How do wetting and drying cycles affect PHE mobility, availability and bioaccessibility?
  • What are the impacts of PHE mobilisation to receptors (humans and livestock)?

Funding Acknowledgements

The PhD is funded by NERC via the IAPETUS Doctoral Training Partnership.

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
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