Carlos Rocha
Associate Prof Environmental Change, School Office - Natural Sciences
Associate Prof Environmental Change, Geography


Carlos Rocha is an Associate Professor in Environmental Change at the School of Natural Sciences, TCD. After graduating in Technological Chemistry with honours in 1991, he went on to obtain a PhD in Marine Chemistry "suma cum laude" at the University of Lisbon in 1997. His contribution to the field was recognized at an early stage by two national science awards (1999 & 2000) and a prestigious nomination for the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography Lindemann Award in 2001. Before joining Trinity College, he was a lecturer in Biogeochemistry and the deputy director of the Centre for Marine and Environmental research at the University of Algarve, Portugal. Currently, Carlos directs the taught Masters in Environmental Sciences at Trinity, and teaches various aspects of Earth System Science at both under- and postgraduate level. Carlos current leads the Biogeochemistry Research Group at Trinity College. Apart from him, the group counts today with 1 Associate Researcher, 2 postdoctoral fellows, 5 PhD students and an annual average of 3-4 MSc students. Our research focuses on the study of processes affecting the transport, fate and impact of chemical species, including contaminants, in aquatic ecosystems. These studies aim to increase, for example, our understanding of carbon and nutrient transport, bioavailability and reactivity in the aquatic environment. Our ultimate goal is to comprehend ecosystem functional plasticity in response to anthropogenic pressure, climate change and biological activity, leading to increased knowledge on the resilience of marine systems to environmental change.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

LefÚvre, N. and da Silva Dias, F.J. and de Torres, A.R. and Noriega, C. and Araujo, M. and de Castro, A.C.L. and Rocha, C. and Jiang, S. and Ibánhez, J.S.P., A source of CO2to the atmosphere throughout the year in the Maranhense continental shelf (2°30'S, Brazil), Continental Shelf Research, 141, 2017, p38-50 Journal Article, 2017 DOI

Jiang, S. and Kavanagh, M. and Rocha, C., Evaluation of the suitability of vacutainers for storage of nutrient and dissolved organic carbon analytes in water samples, Biology and Environment, 117B, (1), 2017, p33-46 Journal Article, 2017 DOI

LefÚvre, N. and Montes, M.F. and Gaspar, F.L. and Rocha, C. and Jiang, S. and De Araújo, M.C. and Severino Pino Ibánhez, J., Net heterotrophy in the Amazon continental shelf changes rapidly to a sink of CO2in the outer Amazon plume, Frontiers in Marine Science, 4, (SEP), 2017 Journal Article, 2017 DOI TARA - Full Text

Oppelt, A. and López Correa, M. and Rocha, C., Biogeochemical analysis of the calcification patterns of cold-water corals Madrepora oculata and Lophelia pertusa along contact surfaces with calcified tubes of the symbiotic polychaete Eunice norvegica: Evaluation of a â€~mucus†calcification hypothesis, Deep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 127, 2017, p90-104 Journal Article, 2017 DOI

Ibánhez, J.S.P. and Rocha, C., Oxygen transport and reactivity within a sandy seepage face in a mesotidal lagoon (Ria Formosa, Southwestern Iberia), Limnology and Oceanography, 61, (1), 2016, p61-77 Journal Article, 2016 DOI

Green, D.S. and Boots, B. and Sigwart, J. and Jiang, S. and Rocha, C., Effects of conventional and biodegradable microplastics on a marine ecosystem engineer (Arenicola marina) and sediment nutrient cycling, Environmental Pollution, 208, 2016, p426-434 Journal Article, 2016 DOI

Wilson, J., Rocha, C. & Coxon, C., Combining earth observation and geochemical tracing techniques for groundwater detection and evaluation in Ireland, EPA Research Report, 172, Wexford, Environmental Protection Agency, 2016, 56 pp. Report, 2016 URL

Rocha, C. and Veiga-Pires, C. and Scholten, J. and Knoeller, K. and Gröcke, D.R. and Carvalho, L. and Anibal, J. and Wilson, J., Assessing land-ocean connectivity via submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) in the Ria Formosa Lagoon (Portugal): Combining radon measurements and stable isotope hydrology, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 20, (8), 2016, p3077-3098 Journal Article, 2016 DOI

Wilson, J., Coxon, C. & Rocha, C., A GIS and remote sensing based screening tool for assessing the potential for groundwater discharge to lakes in Ireland, Biology and Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 116B, (3), 2016, p265 - 277 Journal Article, 2016 DOI URL

Green, D.S. and Boots, B. and Blockley, D.J. and Rocha, C. and Thompson, R., Impacts of discarded plastic bags on marine assemblages and ecosystem functioning, Environmental Science and Technology, 49, (9), 2015, p5380-5389 Journal Article, 2015 DOI

Al-Ali, A.M. and Del Campo, A.G. and Rocha, C., Environmental assessment of mangrove communities in Tarut bay, eastern Arabian peninsula, based on multidisciplinary approach, 40, (7W3), 2015, pp269-276 Conference Paper, 2015 DOI

Rocha, C. and Wilson, J. and Scholten, J. and Schubert, M., Erratum to: Retention and fate of groundwater-borne nitrogen in a coastal bay (Kinvara Bay, Western Ireland) during summer [Biogeochemistry, DOI 10.1007/s10533-015-0116-1], Biogeochemistry, 125, (2), 2015, p301 Journal Article, 2015 DOI

Rocha, C. and Wilson, J. and Scholten, J. and Schubert, M., Retention and fate of groundwater-borne nitrogen in a coastal bay (Kinvara Bay, Western Ireland) during summer, Biogeochemistry, 125, (2), 2015, p275-299 Journal Article, 2015 DOI

Ibánhez, J.S.P. and Rocha, C., Porewater Sampling for NH4+ with Rhizon Soil Moisture Samplers (SMS): Potential Artifacts induced by NH4+ Sorption, Freshwater Science, 33, (4), 2014, p1195-1203 Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Ibánhez J. Severino P., Rocha Carlos, Effects of recirculation of seawater enriched in inorganic nitrogen on dissolved organic carbon processing in sandy seepage face sediments , Marine Chemistry , 166 , ( ), 2014, p48 - 58 Journal Article, 2014 URL DOI TARA - Full Text

Wilson, J. and Rocha, C., A remote sensing and geochemical tracing approach for localising groundwater discharge to lakes, 9239, (92391A), 2014 Conference Paper, 2014 DOI

Stevenson, A. & C. Rocha, Evidence for the bioerosion of deep-water corals by echinoids in the Northeast Atlantic. , Deep-Sea Research, Part I, 71, 2013, p73 - 78 Journal Article, 2013

Craven, K., Edwards, R.J., Goodue, R., Rocha, C., Evaluating the influence of selected acid-pretreatment methods on the environmental interpretation of C/N and δ13C of temperate inter-tidal sediments for relative sea-level reconstruction, Irish Journal of Earth Sciences, 31, 2013, p25 - 42 Journal Article, 2013 TARA - Full Text DOI

Anibal, J, H Madeira, LF Carvalho, E Esteves, C Veiga-Pires, C Rocha, Macroalgae mitigation potential for fish aquaculture effluents: an approach coupling nitrogen uptake and metabolic pathways using Ulva rigida and Enteromorpha clathrata., Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 2013 Journal Article, 2013 URL DOI

Carvalho, LF, C Rocha, A Fleming, C Veiga-Pires, J Anibal, Interception of nutrient rich submarine groundwater discharge seepage on European temperate beaches by the Acoel flatworm, Symsagittifera roscoffensis., Marine Pollution Bulletin, 75, 2013, p150 - 156 Journal Article, 2013 URL

Ibanhez, J., Leote, C. & C Rocha, Seasonal enhancement of Submarine Groundwater Discharge (SGD)-derived nitrate loading into the Ria Formosa coastal lagoon assessed by 1-D modelling of benthic NO3- profiles, Estuarine and Coastal Shelf Science, 132, 2013, p56 - 64 Journal Article, 2013

Green, D.S., C. Rocha & T. Crowe, Effects of Non-indigenous Oysters on Ecosystem Processes Vary with Abundance and Context. , Ecosystems, 16, 2013, p881 - 893 Journal Article, 2013 DOI

Rocha, C. and Woodward, M., Nutrients, 2012, 197-221pp Book, 2012 DOI

Remote Sensing of Environment, 119, (2012), 21 - 34p, Elsevier, [eds.] Journal, 2012 DOI

Wilson J & C Rocha , Regional scale assessment of Submarine Groundwater Discharge in Ireland combining medium resolution satellite imagery and geochemical tracing techniques, Remote Sensing of Environment, 119, 2012, p21 - 34 Journal Article, 2012

Marine monitored parameters, matrices and related techniques - Nutrients. in, editor(s)Quevauvilliler, P., Roose, P & Verreet, G. , Chemical Marine Monitoring - Policy Framework and Analytical Trends, Chichester, UK, John Wiley & Sons, 2011, pp195 - 221, [Rocha C and EMS Woodward] Book Chapter, 2011

Anibal J, E Esteves and C Rocha, Seasonal variations in gross biochemical composition, percent edibility, and condition index of the clam Ruditapes decussatus cultivated in the Ria Formosa (south Portugal), Journal of Shellfish Research, 30, 2011, p17 - 23 Journal Article, 2011

J Ibanhez, Leote C and C Rocha, Porewater nitrate profiles in sandy sediments hosting submarine groundwater discharge described by an Advection-Dispersion-Reaction (ADR) model, Biogeochemistry, 103, 2011, p159 - 180 Journal Article, 2011

Wilson J & C Rocha , Regional Scale Assessment of SGD (Submarine Groundwater Discharge) in Ireland. , Proceedings of RSPSoc2010 Annual Conference, RSPSoc 2010 Annual Conference, Cork, Ireland, 1st-3rd September 20, 2010, pp123 - 130 Conference Paper, 2010

Simao MF, RB Leite, C Rocha and ML Cancela, Changes in Bioturbation of Iron Biogeochemistry and in Molecular Response of the Clam Ruditapes decussates upon Perkinsus olseni Infection. , Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 2010 Journal Article, 2010 URL

Rocha C, Biogeochemistry of nitrogen in intertidal sediments supporting Submarine Groundwater Discharge (SGD), RSC Invited Talk, University of Plymouth, UK, 4th February, 2009, Royal Society of Chemistry Invited Talk, 2009

Rocha, C.; J. Ibanhez & C. Leote, Benthic nitrate biogeochemistry affected by tidal modulation of Submarine Groundwater Discharge (SGD) through a sandy beach face, Ria Formosa, Southwestern Iberia, Marine Chemistry, 115, (1-2), 2009, p43 - 58 Journal Article, 2009 URL

Leote C, J Ibanhez and C Rocha, Submarine Groundwater Discharge as a nitrogen source to the Ria Formosa studied with seepage meters, Biogeochemistry, 88, 2008, p185 - 194 Journal Article, 2008

Rocha C, Sandy sediments as active bigeochemical reactors: compound cycling on the fast lane, Aquatic Microbial Ecology, 53(1), 2008, p119 - 127 Journal Article, 2008

Rocha C, Sandy sediments as active bigeochemical reactors: compound cycling on the fast lane?, 10th Symposium on Aquatic Microbial Ecology, Faro, Portugal, 2-7 September, 2007, ISME-International Society for Microbial Ecology Invited Talk, 2007

Ibanhez SP, C Leote and C Rocha, Biogeochemical mediation of groundwater-borne nitrate seepage into the Ria Formosa coastal lagoon by beach face sandy sediments, published in CD-ROM, XXXV IAH (International Association of Hydrogeologists) Congress - Groundwater and Ecosystems, Lisbon, 17-21 September, 2007, pp10 Conference Paper, 2007

Aníbal J, C. Rocha & M. Sprung, Mudflat surface morphology as a structuring agent of algae and associated macroepifauna communities: A case study in the Ria Formosa , Journal of Sea Research, 57, 2007, p36 - 46 Journal Article, 2007

Leote C, J Ibanhez and C Rocha, Coastal Groundwater Discharge in the Ria Formosa identified as a major source of Nitrogen to the lagoon's internal nutrient mass balance, published in CD-ROM, XXXV IAH (International Association of Hydrogeologists) Congress - Groundwater and Ecosystems, Lisbon, 17-21 September, 2007, pp9pp Conference Paper, 2007

Rocha C, S Forster, E Koning and E Epping, High-resolution permeability determination and two-dimensional pore water flow in sandy sediment, Limnology & Oceanography: Methods, 3, 2005, p10 - 23 Journal Article, 2005

Fitzsimmons MF, M Dawit, DM Revitt and C Rocha, A study of the effects of early tidal inundation on the cycling of methylamines in inter-tidal sediments, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 294, 2005, p51 - 61 Journal Article, 2005

Fitzsimons, M.F. and Dawit, M. and Revitt, D.M. and Rocha, C., Effects of early tidal inundation on the cycling of methylamines in inter-tidal sediments, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 294, 2005, p51-61 Journal Article, 2005

Vidal S, C Rocha, and H Galvão, A comparison of organic and inorganic carbon controls over biological denitrification in aquaria, Chemosphere, 48, 2002, p445 - 451 Journal Article, 2002

Rocha C, H Galvão and A Barbosa, Role of transient silicon limitation in the development of cyanobacteria blooms in the Guadiana estuary, South-western Iberia, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 228, 2002, p35 - 45 Journal Article, 2002

Rocha C, S Mesquita, S Vidal and H Galvão, Impact of clam harvesting on benthic nitrifiers in sandy intertidal sediments of the Ria Formosa coastal lagoon, Portugal, Journal of Coastal Research, 34 , (SI), 2001, p623 - 632 Journal Article, 2001

Rocha, C, Convective turnover on flooding of warm, permeable, intertidal sediments: The ecological importance of the convective turnover pump, Journal of Sea Research, 43, 2000, p1 - 14 Journal Article, 2000

Rocha, C., Density-driven convection during flooding of warm, permeable intertidal sediments: The ecological importance of the convective turnover pump, Journal of Sea Research, 43, (1), 2000, p1-14 Journal Article, 2000 DOI

Rocha, C, Rhythmic ammonium regeneration and flushing in intertidal sediments of the Sado estuary, Limnology and Oceanography, 43, (5), 1998, p823 - 831 Journal Article, 1998

Rocha C and AP Cabral, The influence of tidal action on pore water nitrate in intertidal sediments of the Sado estuary, Estuaries, 21, (4A), 1998, p635 - 645 Journal Article, 1998

Rocha C, G Cabeçadas and MJ Brogueira, Indications of the importance of sediment water exchange processes of ammonia in low depth areas to primary production in the Sado estuary, Netherlands Journal of Aquatic Ecology, 29, (3-4), 1995, p265 - 273 Journal Article, 1995

Rocha C, J Madureira and M Caetano, Role of microorganisms in the mineralization processes of intertidal surface sediments subject to high temperatures: an incubation experiment, Netherlands Journal of Aquatic Ecology, 29, (3-4), 1995, p257 - 263 Journal Article, 1995

Biogeochemical Fluxes in intertidal zones: examples from Portuguese ecosystems in, editor(s)R. Prego & J. M. Fernandez , Biogeochemical processes in Luso-Spanish coastal systems, Pontevedra, Spain, 1995, pp15 - 19, [Vale C, I Caçador, MJ Madureira, M Falcão, M Caetano, T Cabrita and C Rocha] Book Chapter, 1995

Rocha, C. and Cabeçadas, G. and Brogueira, M.J., On the importance of sediment-water exchange processes of ammonia to primary production in shallow areas of the Sado estuary (Portugal), Netherlands Journal of Aquatic Ecology, 29, (3-4), 1995, p265-273 Journal Article, 1995 DOI

Brogueira MJ, G Cabeçadas and C Rocha, Sado estuary coastal waters: thermohaline properties and chemical composition, GAIA, 8, 1994, p23 - 25 Journal Article, 1994

Iley J, Norberto F, E Rosa, V Cardoso and C Rocha, N-nitrosocompounds Part 2. The Synthesis of N-nitrosoclonidine and its decomposition in aqueous acidic media, Journal of the Chemical Society - Perkin Transactions II, 1993, p591- Journal Article, 1993

Research Expertise


  • Title
    • The effects of anthropogenically fixed nutrients delivered to coastal marine ecosystems via SGD on ecosystem function
  • Funding Agency
    • IRCSET
  • Date From
    • 2010
  • Date To
    • 2013
  • Title
    • COST Action ES0801: The ocean chemistry of bioactive trace elements and paleoclimate proxies
  • Summary
    • The cycling of key trace elements in the ocean is critical to the functioning of ocean ecosystems, to the carbon cycle, to contamination of the ocean, and to assessment of past climate change. This COST Action seeks to maximize the benefit from research on the marine chemistry of trace elements conducted in a large number of COST countries. National research cruises will use new analytical and modelling techniques to dramatically improve understanding of ocean trace-element cycles. This Action will unite these national efforts with Working Groups focused on: i) maximizing the research achieved on nationally-funded cruises through international collaboration; ii) intercalibration and standardisation of analytical measurements across the European research area; and, iii) data management and the production of global data products for a wide range of end-users. A fourth Working Group will co-ordinate significant training and outreach activities, though which the Action will generate an international community of young scientists who understand trace-element cycles sufficiently well to contribute to a wide range of future interdisciplinary studies. This Action will liaise closely with international programmes with similar interests, particularly the GEOTRACES programme, and will allow realisation of cross-national goals of that programme within the European research area.
  • Funding Agency
    • EU RTD Framework Programme
  • Date From
    • 29/04/2009
  • Title
    • Development of Remote Sensing as a Tool for Detection, Quantification and Evaluation of Submarine Groundwater Discharge (SGD) to Irish Coastal Waters
  • Summary
    • Submarine Groundwater Discharge (SGD) is receiving considerable attention in the literature as a major pathway for anthropogenically derived pollutants to coastal waters. The specific goal of this research is to develop remote sensing as a tool in the identification, quantification and mapping of SGD. The principal means of the assessment will be via thermal infrared remote sensing for two case-study areas in Ireland - Galway Bay and Dublin Bay. A third site, the Ria Formosa, Portugal, will be used as a reference system for the tools developed. The thermal imagery will be used in combination with ground-based measurements of temperature, conductivity (salinity) and natural chemical tracers of groundwater discharge (222Rn) to assess the impact of SGD. The study aims to improve understanding of the pathways and discharge of contaminants via SGD into Irish coastal waters. This research project, to be led by Dr. Jean Wilson under Dr. Carlos Rocha's supervision, aims to: . Evaluate the potential of thermal remote sensing in SGD assessment in Ireland using Galway Bay and Dublin Bay as case-studies . Validate the areas of SGD identified using thermal IR imagery in the field and calculate the anthropogenic component (using the NITROLINKS project for calibration and control) . Determine the significance of anthropogenically derived SGD to the nutrient load . Identify the geologic and anthropogenic controls on SGD through an analysis of available national offshore and onshore geological spatial datasets (e.g. INFOMAR and EPA) and available satellite imagery within a GIS
  • Funding Agency
    • EPA (STRIVE), Ref: 2008-FS-W-4-S5
  • Date From
    • 01-04-2009
  • Date To
    • 30-03-2012
  • Title
    • Controls on sediment P release from temperate intertidal sediments
  • Summary
    • Several recent analyses suggest that primary production in the Dutch western Wadden Sea is limited by phosphorus (P), as a consequence of effective reducing policies. However, the phytoplankton community has changed remarkably, but annual primary production remained unaffected. To reconcile these observations, we hypothesize that a substantial proportion of primary production following the spring bloom is supported by P regeneration, buffering the reduction in P loads since 1987. To test this hypothesis, we propose a study on regenerative shunts of P cycling in the water column and sediment from the western Wadden Sea, including field work, laboratory experiments and diagenetic modeling. The obtained results can be compared with other ecosystems that are phosphorus limitated like the Ria Formosa in the south of Portugal. This work is expected to add significantly to the understanding of nutrient dynamics and its relations with primary production and with the ecosystems carrying capacity.
  • Funding Agency
    • ESF-European Social Fund; FCT-National Foundation for Science and Technology, Portugal;
  • Date From
    • 2008
  • Date To
    • 2012
  • Title
    • NITROLINKS - NITROgen loading into the Ria Formosa through Coastal Groundwater Discharge (CGD) - Pathways, turnover and LINKS between land and sea in the Coastal Zone [PTDC/MAR/70247/]
  • Summary
    • NITROLINKS focuses on the least understood coastal ecotone: coastal sediments including groundwater discharge. Using the Ria Formosa as a study site, we seek to answer the questions: 1) How important are permeable sediments on the borderline between inland groundwater inputs and productive marine ecosystems as sources or sinks of nitrogen? 2) How important is the discharge of groundwater containing nitrate into the coastal lagoon and what is its biogeochemical relevance, and finally, 3) Do coastal managers need to account for potential source when implementing water and land-use policies in the littoral zone? Research includes mapping of groundwater discharge zones, evaluation of fluxes and seasonal discharge patterns, quantification of biogeochemical process rates at seepage sites, and tracing the transfer of groundwater-borne N to the autotrophic food-web. Results will clarify how CGD relates to the N cycle in the Ria Formosa, filling a current gap in the knowledge of the functioning of coastal lagoon ecosystems.
  • Funding Agency
    • EU (FEDER), National Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) and The Portuguese Government
  • Date From
    • 01-03-2009
  • Date To
    • 27-02-2012
  • Title
    • Nitrogen reduction in marine systems: in-situ study of alternative metabolic pathways linked to Coastal Groundwater Discharge
  • Summary
    • The objectives of this proposal are therefore to identify, quantify and parameterize key biogeochemical processes of N inside permeable sediments and correlate these processes with in-situ flux measurements, while using selected representative N molecules as proxies. Laboratory investigations and field measurements will aim to describe N dynamics in sandy sediments locus of Coastal Groundwater Discharge (CGD). By using stable isotopes as tracers of competing metabolic pathways leading to nitrate reduction in laboratory assays, and complementing these studies with stoichiometric and diagenetic modeling, we will identify and quantify key process rates, thus elucidating the environmental parameters controlling the resulting sediment-water fluxes and mitigatory capability of coastal tidal ecosystems on human-derived nitrogen inputs.The expected results will clarify the mediation role played by marine sandy sediments located on the borderline between continental nitrogen inputs and receiving coastal ecosystems. Ultimately, the derived modeling studies will allow the study of how projected environmental changes could affect nitrogen processing in these systems, filling a current gap in the knowledge of the present and future functioning of the coastal ecosystem.
  • Funding Agency
    • EU (FEDER), National Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) and The Portuguese Government
  • Date From
    • 01-04-2008
  • Date To
    • 31-03-2012


Anthropogenic Impact on ecosystems; Biogeochemistry; Climate Change; Coastal Environmental Change; Coastal management and conservation; Coastal Processes; Earth Sciences for Climate Research; Earth Sciences Instrumentation; Environmental and analytical chemistry; Environmental Impacts, Interactions; Environmental Restoration/Remediation; Estuarine Sciences; Eutrophication; Fluid dynamics; Global Change; Ground, surface water hydrology; Isotope Geochemistry; Marine Biogeochemistry; Marine pollution; Marine Processes/ Chemistry; Ocean Chemistry; Oceanography; Sediment; Sedimentary Geochemistry; Shallow Water Bottom Interaction; Water Pollution; Wetland Ecosystems; Wetlands



Associate editor, "Journal of Sea Research" (ISSN-1385-1101) since 2004

peer-reviewer: Journal of Sea Research, Limnology and Oceanography, Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science, Marine Ecology Progress Series, Hydrobiologia, Journal of Geochemical Exploration since 1999

Awards and Honours

Nominated by students for Porvost Teaching Award 2012

Lindemann award nominee, ASLO-American Society for Limnology and Oceanography 2001

IMAR/Luiz Saldanha Young Researcher Award in Marine Science and Technology 2000

Calouste Gulbenkian Young Researcher Award in Environmental Chemistry 1999


European Association of Geochemistry (EAG)