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Coastal flooding: using historical records to predict and mitigate future risks

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Peter Robins
    Dr M Lewis
    Dr M. Skov
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Coastal flooding is ranked the second highest risk factor for civil emergency in the UK, responsible for at least £0.25bn annually in economic loss. Worse, in coming decades sea-level rise up to 1m is expected, together with wetter winters, which would drastically increase flood risk especially for towns situated on estuaries. Continued development of flood-prone areas, coastal engineering and catchment changes (e.g. deforestation, river dredging) will increase this threat further. The mitigation of future flood risk is therefore crucial for agencies responsible for UK estuaries. However, river flow predictions rarely capture the intensity and timings of flash floods in combination with other drivers such as storm surge and high tide. To achieve this requires new methodologies where the uncertainty associated with predictive inundation models is reduced and the interactions within the estuary are better understood.

Historical records of coastal flooding are essential for determining the probability of occurrence of hazards, as well as providing much-needed validation for inundation models. The National Library Wales archives has a unique and extensive dataset of well-documented coastal flooding events over the past two centuries (e.g. flood extent, depth, aerial photography, witness reports). This rich data presents an exceptional opportunity to study the complex interactions that lead to coastal flooding and address the following fundamental science questions: How do fluvial and marine processes and extremes vary across catchments and weather systems? How have estuaries changed with sea-level rise/coastal-engineering and what are the implications for flooding? Which estuary typologies are most vulnerable to flooding – is there a linear progression through estuary size or is there a tipping point where effects of flash floods are no longer felt? Will future climate and anthropogenic change alter flood risk and can we manage catchments to mitigate the risk?

This project will develop first-order perception of how coastal flood risks interact with environmental context, and how the risks will be moderated/exacerbated by sea-level rise, changing weather and land-use/geomorphic change, with practical emphasis on the Welsh coastline. During the course of the PhD, the student will develop modelling skills including validation methods, sensitivity of flood risk to boundary forcing and application to UKCP18 climate projections. They will curate a new flooding database for Wales and gain experience in time-series and spatial analysis techniques with GIS mapping application. The student will work with Natural Resources Wales to interact with shoreline management planning for coastal change and flood risks including sources-pathways-receptor methodology.

For further details and to apply please contact Dr Peter Robins in the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University [Email Address Removed]

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