Biogeochemical processes affecting water quality in the Manchester Ship Canal

Professor Chuxia Lin (, Andrew Clark (

Manchester Ship Canal (MSC) is a heavily contaminated waterway that has been attracting public attention. Although much effort has been made in the past decades to rehabilitate the degraded aquatic environments, poor water quality is still a limiting factor for the re-establishment of a healthy aquatic ecosystem in MSC.

The special physical configuration makes the canal systems important sinks for organic matter and inorganic pollutants. It also creates anoxic sedimentary environments, which enhance reduction of multivalent transition metals such as iron, manganese, copper etc. and consequently cause the release of these metals, as well as Fe-bound phosphorus species, from the sediments into the water column.

While the mobilisation of these elements could significantly affects water quality, a potentially interesting point is that the water-borne Fe2+ can react with H2O2 derived from rainwater and consequently induce Fenton reaction to produce free radicals, which could have adverse impacts on the aquatic microbial communities such as organic matter decomposers, ammonifying bacteria, and nitrifying bacteria that play key roles in shaping aquatic ecosystems.

The overall aim of this PhD project is to understand the major biogeochemical processes affecting the water quality in MSC. It will focus on the factors controlling microbially mediated decomposition of water-borne organic matter, ammonification and nifrification in the MSC system. The novelty of this study will be to test the hypothesis that rainwater-borne H2O2 plays a role in the above biogeochemical processes.

Microcosm experiments and field monitoring at selected locations within the MSC system will be conducted to collect scientific data. This project will involve substantial amounts of field and laboratory operations in the vicinity of Manchester-Liverpool region.

There are opportunities for international collaboration with some Chinese research institutions to work on the topic of common interest such as water quality issues in the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal over the course of this PhD project.

The intended candidate should have an undergraduate degree in applied science, environmental science/engineering/management, chemistry, biology, earth science, geography or other related areas.

Professor Chuxia Lin T: +44 (0)161 295 5356
Andrew Clark T: +44 (0)161 295 7085.