National park rangers will help conduct a major research scheme into climate change over the next nine months.
The volunteer rangers in the Peak District will conduct the biggest ever research project into moorland water levels. The venture will entail the installation of 400 dipwells – devices buried in the ground to measure the depth of the water table from the moor’s surface.
Kinder Scout: site of the research
The research is being led by Manchester University researchers Dr Tim Allott and Dr Martin Evans and run with the Moors for the Future Partnership.
The research will centre on Kinder Scout and Bleaklow and will measure the effects of moorland restoration. The peat moors hold massive stores of carbon and there are fears that this will be released if the upland areas dry out as a result of climate change. This in turn may then have further effects on greenhouse gases.
Restoration of the peat uplands is hoped to help raise water tables, alleviating flooding at lower levels and increasing carbon storage.
The project is being launched tomorrow by Moors for the Future, the university and the Environment Agency. The data collected will be used to produce a digital model of the terrain and assess the effects of the restoration.
Dr Allott said: “This exciting and novel research will help us understand how moorland restoration can be used to adapt to climate change. Moorland water tables also influence run-off from the uplands during heavy rainfall events, and so this work may also contribute to our understanding of downstream flooding.”
The volunteer rangers will be trained in use of the equipment.
Andrew Jones, of the Moors for the Future research team, added: “The ranger service has worked with us on a number of our research projects in the past, and it’s great to have them on board again.
“This is a unique project; the water table of the Peak District moors has never been mapped on this scale before. The project requires the measurement of water table depth at each of the 400-plus dipwells on the same day each month.
“Without the help of the rangers we simply wouldn't be able to take the measurements concurrently, which is vital to the success of the project.”
The Environment Agency has contributed £20,000 to the scheme.