An Introduction to the Science Projects


Safe and effective urban regeneration requires a sound understanding of the mechanisms and pathways of pollutant transfer between soil, air and water, and the effects on urban ecosystems.

For example many urban areas are effected by soil pollution from previous industrial uses which has to be cleaned up before the area can be regenerated. projects are developing detection techniques and investigating impacts. The investigation of the impacts of soil pollution  on ecology is a good example of the integration of the scientific disciplines involved in URGENT research.

Air pollution is an important urban problem and various projects are investigating its causes and possible prevention strategies. For example in Port Talbot on the South Wales Coast airborne particles are derived from the M4 traffic, as well as various industrial sources. Air samples are being collected to determine the types and sizes of the particles and where they come from. Some particles from Port Talbot are shown in the scanning electron microscope image below

Both river and freshwater lakes are affected by pollution from many different sources. Sources and types of pollutants need to be identified  and control methods developed to allow for a more healthy aquatic 
environment in the future. One project is investigating the impact on urban water bodies of sewer overflows combined with pollutants in the river flow input. Opposite is a picture of researchers sampling the microbial levels in Cardiff Bay this is being carried out to develop management strategies to allow the lake to be used for recreation.

Urban ecosystems are affected by the quality of air water and soil. Urban habitats are important areas of biodiversity, and the value of this resource and potential threatening impacts of pollutants need to be assessed. It is vital to be able to accurately map and monitor changes in the wide range of surface types within urban areas. 

All of the URGENT Projects are contributing to urban research into

  • the magnitude of the problems and risks in order to understand the underlying patterns and processes, and;
  • strategies for remediation and management.

The science areas are by nature interlinked, and strong collaboration between the projects is encouraged with one cross-cutting project on Environmental Information Systems also adding to this integration.

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