Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes
Norwich Research Park Featured PhD Programmes
University of Reading Featured PhD Programmes

Disentangling landuse and climatic roles in sediment delivery to upland British lakes (GTA eligible project)

Department of Geography and Planning

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
Dr Heather Sangster , Prof R Chiverell No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
Liverpool United Kingdom Climate Science Hydrology Meteorology Geography Geology Soil Science

About the Project


Lakes and reservoirs act as sinks for both anthropogenic and natural processes occurring in catchments, therefore their sediments can provide valuable information on temporal changes in catchment processes. The role of landuse change and climate on British upland systems over the last 150 years has resulted in notable and in places significant changes in sediment delivery to the hydrological system (Smith et al., 2018), with phases of erosion being recorded within lake systems (Schillereff et al., 2014). Recent methodological developments permit a now much higher resolution analysis of sedimentary depositional rates within British upland lake systems (Chiverrell et al., 2019). These developments alongside advances in archival analysis and mapping of archive based materials in GIS (Sangster et al., 2018; Sangster et al., in prep) provide new opportunities for exploring the competing roles of climate and landuse on sedimentary processes using landscape evolution models (LEM: e.g. CAESAR Lisflood).


The studentship seeks to exploit existing datasets compiled at Liverpool for a series of catchments from around the UK and develop new sites to disentangle the competing roles of landuse and climate on sediment delivery to lakes. This will be achieved through several objectives:

1.      Reconstruct landuse patterns through time, using existing archival sources the project will examine how landuse and farming practices have modified the landscape.

2.      Reanalyse and reconstruct precipitation series for areas where no/partial existing records extending back to 1860, the start of British Rainfall - systematic rainfall recording across the UK

3.      Evaluate how changes in regional, national and international policies have shaped agricultural practices

4.      Develop new lake profiles, characterising sedimentary characteristics and depositional processes and rates of sediment accumulation.

5.      Use these new landuse and precipitation data in catchment scale LEM’s to simulate change in sediment fluxes to lake basins, and validate these using the lake sediment record.

The PhD will include bespoke training in field data collection and processing, reconstruction of past landscapes using archival sources, GIS mapping, with training in lacustrine sediment characterization for geochemistry (XRF), mineral /organic content (NIRS), and particle size (laser granulometry) using the Environmental Change Laboratories at Liverpool. LEM simulations would draw on experience using CAESAR Lisflood to test the comparative importance of human and climate drivers of catchment erosion and sediment flux.

This PhD topic is one of eight eligible for funding support through the recruitment of two Graduate Teaching Assistants within Geography & Planning and Earth Sciences at 0.5 FTE over a five-year period. The expectation is that no less than 50% of your time will be made available for the pursuit of your PhD or MPhil studies. In addition to your application for the PhD (detailed here), you are also required to apply for the 0.5 FTE University Teacher Salary: (£29,177 - £33,797 pa – at 0.5FTE pro rata) ensure that, in the funding section of the PGR application form, you mark your application ‘GTA SoES Post’.

For any enquiries: Dr Heather Sangster (Lead Supervisor) and Prof. Richard Chiverrell ([Email Address Removed])

To apply for this opportunity, please visit:

Funding Notes

Funding for the PhD includes tuition fees and a research support budget £1,000 per year.


Chiverrell, R.C., Sear, D.A., Warburton, J., Macdonald, N., Schillereff, D.N., Dearing, J.A., Croudace, I.W., Brown, J., Bradley, J., 2019. Using lake sediment archives to improve understanding of flood magnitude and frequency: recent extreme flooding in northwest UK. Earth Surf. Process. Landforms esp.4650.
Sangster, H., Jones, C., Macdonald, N., 2018. The co-evolution of historical source materials in the geophysical, hydrological and meteorological sciences: Learning from the past and moving forward. Prog. Phys. Geogr. 42, 61–82.
Sangster, H., Smith, H., Riley, M., Boyle, J. Chiverrell, R., Penuela-Fernandez, A., Sellami, H. (in prep). Integrating records of agricultural change for environmental modelling. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment.
Schillereff, D.N., Chiverrell, R.C., Macdonald, N., Hooke, J.M., 2014. Flood stratigraphies in lake sediments: A review. Earth-Science Rev. 135, 17–37.
Smith, H.G., Peñuela, A., Sangster, H., Sellami, H., Boyle, J., Chiverrell, R., Schillereff, D., Riley, M., 2018. Simulating a century of soil erosion for agricultural catchment management. Earth Surf. Process. Landforms 43, 2089–2105.

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2021
All rights reserved.