for Earth and Marine Sciences

One of Europe’s leading centres in Earth, marine and ecosystem sciences, the Lyell Centre enhances Scotland’s research base and supports its innovation strategy through socially and industrially relevant research.

Fundamental and applied research combines with innovative technology to find solutions to the global challenges facing our planet from the deep sub-surface of the earth to the polar regions.

This exciting strategic collaboration develops and applies evidence-based solutions related to the Earth’s surface, sub-surface, oceans and atmosphere. Combining research and innovation sparks transformative ideas beyond traditional boundaries.

How do we do this?

Funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Scottish Funding Council and Heriot-Watt, the Lyell Centre builds on interdisciplinary expertise to encourage an outstanding science culture. Advanced facilities include biogeochemistry, geoenergy, microbiology and marine ecology laboratories, deep sea research and marine operations workshops.

Research themes, directed by global science challenges, include climate, water, life in surface and subsurface environments; energy from the Earth; risk, hazards and uncertainties. These challenges are adapted as the societal, economic and research landscape evolves and new challenges arise.

Read more about: The Lyell Centre

The Lyell Centre

Research and innovation across marine, Earth and ecosystem sciences, combine to spark novel ideas, and find solutions, to global challenges.

Earth and marine sciences: Interviews

Dr Tracy Shimmield, Director of the Lyell Centre, and Professors Thomas Wagner and Michel Kaiser talk about the Lyell and their leading research.

Face the facts

Dr Heidi Burdett outlines the effect climate change is having on Scotland's coastal ecosystems and how they can be utilised as a natural climate solution. From the RSE's Face the Facts series in the lead up to COP26.

Carbon on the move

Dr Ryan Pereira investigates how carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds flow through the ocean and rivers, to help scientists produce more accurate models of climate change impacts.


Dr Ryan Pereira: Planet Earth is constantly evolving and has an ever-changing climate. We need to understand how human actions effect the world in which we live in the short and long term. It’s vital for future generations.

Central to this is our research into how carbon compounds move through the environment, from the land to the ocean and from the Earth’s surface to the atmosphere. Our specific area of research here, at the Lyell Centre at Heriot-Watt, is in how carbon compounds flow through water and how they change in time and space.

So, what difference does this make?

Well, understanding the movement of carbon compounds and their fate is vital to all life on earth – the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat, everything’s effected in some way.

Improving our knowledge will help us live more sustainably and better understand our impact on the world.

Our work will inform what actions we can take to change how we live today to protect tomorrow.

News and media

Read about our headline-making research and innovation.

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Research engagement