WISE CDT Student Josie Ashe’s Blog: It’s not all office work!

Josie's fieldwork on Dartmoor, Devon

Josie’s fieldwork on Dartmoor, Devon


University of Exeter Student Josie Ashe writes:

Real-time monitoring of hydrology and water quality across a river catchment can be challenging: there’s no power, no mobile signal; everything’s frozen; there’s water in the wiring; and the wind is blowing everything away… or maybe the cows have walked away with it.

Fieldwork on Dartmoor

Fieldwork on Dartmoor

But the solutions are there, and improvements in technology over the last decade have made it possible for us to set up flexible and robust real-time monitoring stations and networks. Sometimes we end up sitting in the snow wiring sensors, or walking for an hour across the moor with a weird assortment of monitoring equipment. Often we head out in the driving rain; but every now and then we walk out and work in the sunshine in the most amazing setting. This makes up for all the difficult conditions we’ve ever had.

Upstream in the headwaters we are using these real-time networks to monitor damaged and restored landscapes to help us understand how they function. Moving downstream we can join forces with different stakeholders and dig into the data from wider monitoring to support work which safeguards our drinking water sources and looks after the wider ecosystem benefits that these landscapes provide. All of this together helps us understand how different ways of managing catchments can affect the water leaving the land; what reaches our rivers, water treatment works, and eventually our taps.

More information on Josie’s PhD and her work with both Exeter University and the Upstream Thinking Partnership is available on her profile page.