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The University of Southampton

Professor Trevor W Tanton BSc PhD


Professor Trevor W Tanton's photo

Professor Trevor W Tanton is Emeritus Professor within Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Professor Trevor Tanton is Professor of Environmental Technology. In recent years he has mainly worked on the management of water resources in the large river basins of the world and water usage for irrigation. Major themes include managing the risks posed by increasing water demand, control of salinity in irrigated soils, and the effects of a changing climate.

A number of research projects have been carried out with the objective of identifying improved water resource management options for the Amu and Syr Darya Basins. This work includes development of decision support tools for managing basin water resources; identifying the likely impact of climate change in the Amu Darya Basin; and production of a water management program for the Syr Darya and the North Aral Sea. He has an in depth knowledge of environmental and water resource/irrigation issues of Central Asia.

He has also conducted an appreciable amount of work on cost effective management of risk associated with mercury pollution in soils and water. He is co-author of the much cited paper, “Mercury in the aquatic environment: A review of factors affecting methylation”.

for mercury analysis
Taking groundwater samples
Surveying mercury-rich sediments
Surveying mercury-rich sediments

Research interests

Water resource management, Remote sensing, Crops, Irrigation, Mercury, Environmental issues, Environmental risk.

Verifying water loss from wetland
Verifying water loss from wetland
Offtake canal in Cenral Asia
Offtake canal in Cenral Asia
crop water use
Remote sensing of real time
Climate change in Amu Darya basin
Climate change in Amu Darya basin

Research group

Water and Environmental Engineering Group

Affiliate research groups

Mercury Research and Remediation (MercRes), Underutilised Crops, Water Research

Research project(s)

Study of the mercury of the River Nura

This project is one of a series carried out on aspects of mercury pollution in the River Nura in Temirtau in central Kazakhstan. In particular it aimed to study the chemical fate of mercury in the river in an attempt to identify conditions of water flow and quality that will reduce its transport downstream; and the distribution, transport and behaviour of the mercury contaminated silts, in order to define economic containment techniques.

Creation of a network of scientists and engineers for sustainable management of the water resources of the Aral basin

The project brought together engineers, scientists and policy makers to identify research needs and propose solutions for the Aral basin.

BG Chairs of Environmental Technology

Development of options for damage limitation and environmental restoration of mercury-contaminated areas in north-central Kazakhstan

This project is one of a series carried out on aspects of mercury pollution in the River Nura in Temirtau in central Kazakhstan.

Satellite image processing techniques for effective management of land use and irrigation demand in the Aral basin - INTAS Aral

It is estimated that effective management of irrigated agriculture in the Aral basin could save up to 10% of the region’s water, doubling the flow to the severely degraded lower reaches and contributing significantly to the preservation of the region’s biodiversity and its human and natural ecosystems. This research aimed to provide a scientifically-proven methodology by which agricultural land use can be determined from multi-spectral satellite imagery. The method was then applied, in conjunction with an existing water resource management model for the Syr Darya river, to provide up-to-date information for calculation of crop water demand. The result is a cost-effective system that is capable of identifying the extent and location of wasted irrigation water, and of examining the effects of alternative management options. The overall goal was to provide practical tools that will allow rational planning and utilisation of the Aral basin's land and water resources.

Study of the equilibrium and kinetics of mercury sorption and desorption by power station fly ash and assessment of the role of ash in limiting the bio-availability of mercury

This project aimed to provide detailed knowledge of the processes by which power station ash acts as a sorbent for mercury, allowing it to be considered as a potential remediation material.

Enhancing Mercury Capture by wet FGD Systems

The emission of gaseous mercury from the stacks of coal-fired power stations is a major source of environmental mercury pollution. In many parts of the world, deposition of atmospheric mercury has led to the bioaccumulation of mercury in the aquatic food chain to levels where the Government has issued health advisory messages on fish consumption. It is therefore essential that mercury is removed from the waste gas.

Development of cost-effective methods for minimising risk from heavy metal pollution in industrial cities: A case study of mercury pollution in Pavlodar (TOXICMANAGEMENT)

This programme of research was undertaken to assess the environmental impact and level of risk associated with a major case of mercury pollution at a derelict chlor-alkali plant in Pavlodar, Northern Kazakhstan. The main aim was to investigate environmental management options for the remediation/mitigation of the pollution and to identify affordable clean-up options.

TWINBAS - Twinning European and third countries river basins for development of integrated water resources management methods

The central objective of TWINBAS was to fill gaps in knowledge and methods in order to enable the implementation of a harmonised IWRM approach that addresses the European Water Initiative. By twinning five river basins, two in Europe and three in Africa, Central Asia and Latin America and tying together water researchers with key expertise on these rivers, a critical mass of experience and knowledge will be mobilised. An important part of the objective was to develop the capacity to carry out IWRM in all five river basins, building on European approaches to water resources management with the Water Framework Directive in focus, as well as on third countries expertise and experience.

JAYHUN - Interstate water resource risk management: Towards a sustainable future for the Aral Basin

The overall aim of the project was to contribute to ensuring a sustainable future for the Aral basin that takes account of the rapid glacier melt taking place in the upper catchment and the rapid decline in reservoir storage capacity caused by siltation. These aspects have been widely neglected in past studies, and unless they are taken into account in the water planning process, will cause further environmental degradation in the basin and significant economic disruption as water resources become scarcer.

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  • Armstrong, A. S. B., Hughes, E. J., Rycroft, D. W., Tanton, T. W., Pearce, A., & Watson, W. J. (1996). A manual for the horizontal leaching technique. Institute of Irrigation Studies, University of Southampton and Hydraulics Research Walligford.

Book Chapters

  • Tanton, T. W., Ikramova, M., & Rycroft, D. W. (2010). Natural and manmade risks to water resource security in the Amu Darya Basin. In Interstate Water Resource Risk Management: Towards a Sustainable Future for the Aral Basin (pp. 99-116). International Water Association Publishing.
  • Heaven, S., Karazhanova, A., Yanin, E. P., Ilyushchenko, M. A., & Tanton, T. W. (1997). Mercury pollution of the River Nura in Central Kazakstan. In G. Hüseyin (Ed.), WPMC 97 International Conference on water problems in the Mediterranean countries,17-21 November 1997, Nicosia, North Cyprus (pp. 114). Near East University.
  • Tanton, T. W., & Rycroft, D. W. (1996). Monitoring of drainage performance. In 16th International Congress on Irrigation and Drainage, Cairo, Egypt 1996, on the Theme 'Sustainability of Irrigated Agriculture (pp. 157-182). International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage.
  • Tanton, T. W. (1991). Tea crop physiology. In K. C. Wilson, & M. N. Clifford (Eds.), Tea: cultivation to consumption (pp. 163-199). Springer.
  • Tanton, T. W., & Armstrong, A. S. B. (1990). A new reclamation technique for poorly permeable saline clay soils. In Hydraulics Research Limited Report (pp. 104-115). (Hydraulics Research Report Limited; Vol. 110, No. 21). H.R. Wallingford.



Professor Trevor W Tanton
Engineering, University of Southampton, Southampton Boldrewood Innovation Campus, Burgess Road, Southampton, SO16 7QF

Room Number : 178/5021/B1

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