Paul Whitehead

School of Geography and the Environment
South Parks Road

Professor of Water Science and Fellow of St Peter's College & Director of the NERC Macronutrients Cycles Programme

Paul researches the interplay between environmental management of major problems such as climate change and pollution control and the development and application of new mathematical techniques for modelling environmental systems.

Current research projects include:

  • Water Quality and Ecosystems Modelling
  • Environmental Management across the World: distant past to the future

Macronutrients Cycles Programme

Paul Whitehead is the Director of the NERC Macronutrients Cycles Programme, which aims to quantify the scales (magnitude and spatial/temporal variation) of nitrogen and phosphorus fluxes and the nature of transformations through the catchment under a changing climate and perturbed carbon cycle.

Macronutrient cycles - nitrogen (N), carbon (C) and phosphorus (P) - are pivotal in the stability of global biogeochemical cycles, in sustaining natural resources and in protecting human health and biodiversity. Human activities have enhanced global cycles of N and P by on average 100% and 400%, respectively. Food has a major impact of macronutrient cycles because of the need to use N and P fertilisers to grow crops that are either eaten directly or are used to feed animals for consumption. A considerable proportion of these nutrients are flushed into rivers, lakes, estuaries and the seas and cause serious eutrophication problems that affect ecology, fisheries, amenity and conservation.  Plus the nutrients in food in human waste end up going through waste water treatment plants and then directly into rivers. Thus there is a very strong link between food and macronutrients. An example of how food is related to Nitrogen can be investigated through the Nitrogen Footprint Calculator. Visit the N-Calculator and calculate your personal link between food and Nitrogen.

Paul Whitehead also contributes to the MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management.


Recent Relevant Publications: 

Altansukh, O., Whitehead, P. and Bromley, J. (2012) Spatial patterns and temporal trends in the water quality of the Tuul River in Mongolia. Energy and Environment Research, 2(1). DOI: 10.5539/eer.v2n1p62

Jin, L. and Whitehead, P.G. (2010) Modeling flow and nitrogen dynamics in the River Thames: implication of future climate induced water vulnerability in southeast England. British Hydrological Society (BHS) Conference Proceedings, University of Newcastle.

Lázár, A.N., Butterfield, D., Futter, M.N., Rankinen, K., Thouvenot-Korppoo, M., Jarritt, N., Lawrence, D.S.L., Wade, A.J. and Whitehead P.G. (2010) An assessment of the fine sediment dynamics in an upland river system: INCA-Sed modifications and implications for fisheriesScience of the Total Environment, 408(12): 2555-2566.

Wilby, R.L., Orr, H.G, Watts, G., Battarbee, R.W., Berry, P.M., Chadd, R., Dugdale, S.J, Dunbar, M.J., Elliott, J.A., Extence, C., Hannah, D.M., Holmes, N., Johnson, A.C., Knights, B., Milner, N.J., Ormerod, S.J., Solomon, D., Timlett, R., Whitehead, P.G. and Wood, P.J. (2010) Evidence needed to manage freshwater ecosystems in a changing climate: turning adaptation principles into practiceScience of the Total Environment, 408(19): 4150-4164.