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Flood and drought assessment in a human-dominated water cycle

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, November 15, 2019
  • Awaiting Funding Decision/Possible External Funding
    Awaiting Funding Decision/Possible External Funding

Project Description

This is an ideal project for a resourceful and driven individual. The successful candidate will develop and hone first-rate analytical, computational and communication skills that will enable them to choose their subsequent career path, whether in academia or industry.

Decision-makers and water users (water utilities, industries, farmers) need academics and analysts to provide relevant information about the potential impacts of water extremes (droughts, floods) in a changing world. Fit-for-purpose hydrological models that link climate variables (precipitation, temperature) to these extremes need to account for the fact that humans have become an integral part of the water cycle.

This project will use and link together existing models to propose a diagnostic framework for the coupling of a weather generator with a coupled human and natural hydrological model, that integrates both natural processes and water management aspects (water use, storage, transfers…).
A first step in the project will couple an existing weather generator with a high-profile hydrological model, featured in Nature and Science in large part thanks to its ability to represent parts of the human systems. After this, there will be room for the student to tailor the project to their interests, and focus on some questions among the following topics:
1. Diagnostics of weather generators: how can we choose a weather generator to pair with a given hydrological model to get the best representation of flood / drought risk? And to understand whether this weather generator will be relevant to simulate future climates?
2. From weather to streamflow generation: streamflow generation at sites that are key for water managers is easier and less computationally intensive than coupling a weather generator with a complex hydrological model. So how can weather generation inform streamflow generation?
3. Diagnostics of water management strategies: what are their impacts on flood and drought risk? Can the coupling of weather generators and hydrological models reveal a larger range of conditions in which human infrastructure could fail? Can optimisation of these strategies reveal the trade-offs between resilience to water hazards and other uses of the water infrastructure?

This project will include national but also international cooperation opportunities, including with top research groups at United States universities.

The candidate
Suitable for candidates holding or anticipating award of an MSc, or 1st/2.1 undergraduate degree in an engineering or numerical/physical sciences discipline. A taste for programming is essential and prior experience is a plus. Candidates should have an enthusiasm for research and a wish to communicate both the technical and practical consequences of their research outputs.

Next steps
Informal enquiries are very welcome. Please contact Dr Charles Rougé on 0114 222 5723 or . Applications are welcome now. The start date is flexible, but planned to be around September 2020.

Funding Notes

Funding notes
Awards for UK students cover tuition fees and a maintenance allowance at the standard RCUK rate – e.g. £14,777 per annum in 2018-2019. EU applicants who have been resident in the UK for at least 3 years immediately preceding the start of their course are also eligible for awards that cover tuition fees and provide a maintenance allowance.




How good is research at University of Sheffield in Civil and Construction Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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