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  Experimental study of atmospheric winds in and above forested canopies

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  Dr Michael Heisel  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Turbulent winds within forested canopies are critical to the exchange of water vapor and gases between plants and the atmosphere. At the same time, the canopy significantly alters atmospheric winds above the canopy. There is limited predictive theory for these flow alterations, despite the direct implication for the performance of global models that have grid points close to the canopy. This experimental project will measure turbulent winds within and above idealized scale-model forested canopies in a wind tunnel setting. The goals of the project are to improve our understanding of turbulent phenomena in the presence of canopies and to advance predictive models for the mean wind conditions. The project will be conducted in collaboration with international researchers and may involve analysis of field-scale measurements to supplement the wind tunnel experiments.

In addition to earning a PhD in Civil Engineering, the student will develop an expertise in atmospheric turbulence and experimental methods for fluid mechanics, e.g. particle image velocimetry and hotwire anemometry. The student will have the opportunity to publish their research in leading journals in the areas of fluid mechanics (e.g. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Physical Review Fluids) and atmospheric sciences (e.g. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, Boundary-Layer Meteorology, Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres), plus attend academic conferences within Australia and internationally.

Potential applicants should send a copy of their CV and a short description of their interest in the project to Dr. Heisel. Preference will be given to applicants with a strong background in fluid dynamics and experience using high-level programming languages such as matlab or python. Further information about Dr. Heisel is available from his academic profile ( and personal website (

Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

Funding for this project is provided directly by the School of Civil Engineering at University of Sydney. The opportunity will cover the cost of tuition (pending application) and provide a scholarship stipend of AU$37,207 for 3.5 years. It is open to both Australian and international students.
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