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James Rothwell

Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography

I am interested in environmental pollution, with research work focussed on metals and nutrients in soil and aquatic systems.


  • 2002 - 2006: PhD, Geography, School of Environment & Development, The University of Manchester
  • 1999 - 2002: BSc Hons Geography, School of Geography, The University of Manchester

Research interests 

I am interested in the stores, behaviour, fate and transport of pollutants in the environment. Much of my work addresses the hydrological and biogeochemical processes that affect trace metal and nutrient cycling. I work in a range of systems including peat bogs, forests and urban environments. My research involves catchment scale process work, laboratory and field experiments, analysis of spatial and temporal monitoring data, and GIS/statistical modelling. 

Current research projects

  • Tackling urban diffuse pollution using green infrastructure (with Red Rose Forest, the Environment Agency, Salford City Council, Urban Vision);
  • Ecosystem services and disservices in urban Bangladesh and Tanzania (with Lancaster University, BRAC University, and Ardhi University);
  • Roadside gully pots as hotspots of urban diffuse pollution (with The Environment Agency, Red Rose Forest, and Liverpool John Moores University);
  • Arsenic mobility in peat soils (with ETH Zurich, The British Geological Survey, Brighton University, and Birkbeck - University of London);
  • Historical records of atmospheric metal pollution in the Transylvanian Alps (with University of Suceava, and the University of Salford).

Supervision topics 

I welcome inquiries from well qualified graduate students from physical geography and environmental science backgrounds, particularly those with an interest/experience in environmental pollution.

Current supervision topics

Research topics covered by PhD students I supervise currently include:

  • Historical erosion in upland blanket peat systems;
  • Dissolved organic nitrogen and carbon dynamics in upland catchments of the southern Pennines, UK;
  • Impact of combined sewer overflows on an urban river: a case study of the River Irwell, Manchester.

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