Sophie Comer-Warner

University of Birmingham


Understanding groundwater controls on microbial metabolic activity, biogeochemical cycling and associated greenhouse gas production in streambed sediments


Dr Stefan Krause/Dr Daren Gooddy

PhD Summary

My project is entitled 'Groundwater controls on microbial respiration, biogeochemical cycling and greenhouse gas production in streambed sediments' with Dr Stefan Krause (University of Birmingham) and Dr Daren Gooddy (British Geological Survey) as supervisors. My research is on the factors affecting biogeochemical cycling and greenhouse gas production in the hyporheic zone of both chalk and sandstone streams. The hyporheic zone is of particular interest due to its increased chemical reactivity and residence time; both of the water and its chemical constituents. Specifically, I am interested in nitrate and the greenhouse gases methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. I am looking at controlling factors and how these interact to allow a greater understanding of the chemistry in streambed sediments. This will allow us to find more effect ways to manage rivers in the future, so that both pollution and greenhouse gas production are reduced. I am concentrating on temperature, microbial metabolism and residence time as drivers, due to their influence on the nitrogen and carbon cycles, and chemical reactivity. I am particularly interested in the effect of the combination of these factors, not just their influence in isolation. Additionally, I am interested in isotopes as a way to gain further insight into biogeochemical cycling and sources of chemical constituents such as nitrate, and am developing new ways to investigate these in the hyporheic zone.

Previous Activity

I completed a Masters in Chemistry at the University of Sheffield, followed by an MSc in Oceanography at the University of Southampton. Prior to starting my PhD I worked for NERC as a Science Programme Officer.