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Effects of very large scale offshore wind deployment on physical processes in the North Sea

   Energy and Environment Institute

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  Dr S Waldman, Dr Anne Baar, Dr Charlie Lloyd, Dr R Dorrell  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This PhD scholarship is offered by the Aura Centre for Doctoral Training in Offshore Wind Energy and the Environment; a partnership between the Universities of Durham, Hull, Newcastle and Sheffield. The successful applicant will undertake a PG-Dip training year and then continue their PhD research at University of Hull.

For more information visit www.auracdt.hull.ac.uk. Or if you have a direct question about the project, please email [Email Address Removed] and we will forward the query to the relevant supervisor. Please do not contact the project supervisors directly.

The impacts of offshore wind turbines on large-scale physical processes below the waterline, such as stratification and large-scale circulation, are poorly understood (Clark et al, 2014). The effect of an individual turbine is small, but with very large-scale deployment the cumulative effects may become worthy of attention. For example, theoretical analysis by Carpenter et al (2016) suggested that mixing caused by wind farms of 100 km in extent would have significant effects on seasonal stratification. In-progress developments in the North Sea will exceed this scale, and national ambitions are greater still.

Large-scale changes to these physical processes would have implications for biological and ecological processes, and hence be important to the consenting process. The current knowledge gap in this area therefore represents a project risk for the very large-scale deployment which is planned to 2030 and beyond.

This project will develop a regional-scale, numeric hydrodynamic model of the North Sea with a plausible offshore wind deployment scenario for 2050, and use it to examine the resulting changes in physical sub-surface processes (e.g. tides, large-scale circulation, mixing and stratification).

Insight will be gained into,

  • differences in cumulative oceanographic impacts between types of fixed and floating turbine base
  • how offshore wind deployment might be optimised to minimise the oceanographic environmental impacts of a given level of electricity generation.

The work will achieve impact by providing the industry with evidence towards future Environmental Statements – either showing that the effects of very large-scale deployment will be minor, or that these effects are anticipated and can be predicted and managed.

Entry requirements

If you have received a First-class Honours degree or a 2:1 Honours degree and a Masters (or the international equivalents) in Physical Oceanography, Physics, Physical Geography, Applied Mathematics or Computer Science, we would like to hear from you. The project would suit somebody with interest and enthusiasm for offshore wind and computational modelling with strong IT aptitude.

If your first language is not English, or you require Tier 4 student visa to study, you will be required to provide evidence of your English language proficiency level that meets the requirements of the Aura CDT’s academic partners. This course requires academic IELTS 7.0 overall, with no less than 6.0 in each skill.

How to apply

Applications are via the University of Hull online portal; you must also download a supplementary application form from the Aura CDT website, complete and submit as part of the online application.

For more information about the Aura CDT including links and detailed instructions please visit our how to apply page.


Research Council funding for postgraduate research has residence requirements. Our Aura CDT scholarships are available to Home (UK) Students. To be considered a Home student, and therefore eligible for a full award, a student must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the scholarship (with some further constraint regarding residence for education). For full eligibility information, please refer to the EPSRC website. In addition, a number of Aura CDT Scholarships will be available to International Students across the projects offered by the partner institutions.


For more information why not watch a recording of the webinar we held on 29 November? You will be able to hear the Project Leads from each partner institutions, as well as the question and answer session that followed the presentations.

Funding Notes

The Aura CDT is funded by the EPSRC and NERC, allowing us to provide scholarships that cover fees plus a stipend set at the UKRI nationally agreed rates, circa £17,668 per annum at 2022/23 rates (subject to progress).


Clark, S., Schroeder, F., Baschek, B., 2014. The influence of large offshore wind farms on the North Sea and Baltic Sea – a comprehensive literature review (No. HZG 2014-6). Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht. https://www.hzg.de/imperia/md/content/hzg/zentrale_einrichtungen/bibliothek/berichte/uhzg_reports_2014/hzg_report_2014_6.pdf
Carpenter, J.R., Merckelbach, L., Callies, U., Clark, S., Gaslikova, L., Baschek, B., 2016. Potential Impacts of Offshore Wind Farms on North Sea Stratification. PLOS ONE 11, e0160830. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0160830
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