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How can blue-green infrastructure support climate change efforts? (OP2237)

   Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering

   Monday, January 24, 2022  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Newcastle United Kingdom Built Environment Civil Engineering Climate Science Environmental Engineering Environmental Geography Human Geography Mathematical Modelling Rural Planning Urban Planning

About the Project

In England, 3.2 million households are located in areas at risk of surface water flooding, with annual damages exceeding £300 million. This cost of associated damage could increase by 40% by the 2050s, largely driven by climate change. Traditional ‘grey’ infrastructure for managing surface water, which has a sole purpose, removes water as quickly as possible through drains, gullies and sewers in a hidden way. Increased impermeable surfaces in urban areas with population growth, coupled with increased intense rainfall will result in additional stress and investment needed for drainage infrastructure. Blue-Green infrastructure (BGI) can provide a means of reducing the amount of water entering drainage via infiltration, interception, transpiration and providing both temporary and longer-term storage i.e. controlling the water source, slowing the conveyance and proving attenuation. BGI plays an important role in coping with projected impacts of climate change, and at the same time can reduce carbon emissions (e.g. through sequestration and reduced energy use). BGI also provides a wider range of economic, social and environmental benefits. However, there are a number of limitations that need to be considered: institutional factors e.g. multiple agencies involved in decisions and funding of solutions; uncertainty over maintenance costs and land ownership and performance in extreme events; limitations in comprehensive understanding of cost-benefits, as well as limitations on tools currently available to appraise BGI options both spatially and temporally.

 Working with Case Partner, Stantec, in collaboration with NWG this project will identify the role of BGI in meeting climate change objectives and explore approaches using various tools e.g. CIRIA’s Benefits Estimation Tool (B£ST). However, the ability of BGI to support adaptation is not currently well understood. Therefore, a particular area of need/opportunity is to enhance our understanding of the contribution of BGI to climate resilience. The project also considers spatial variability e.g. urban/semi-urban/rural, different parts of the country, in terms of (a) physical benefits from BGI (e.g. amount of carbon, number of visitors, flows to works and treatment requirements), and (b) monetary value of benefits. It also includes an approach to scenario modelling, useful for considering a range of climate futures, based on the COFAS method. More comprehensive understanding and quantification of climate adaptation, carbon and other benefits, will inform assessment, valuation and decision making.

Funding Notes

This project is part of the NERC ONE Planet DTP. Each of our studentship awards include 3.5 years of fees (Home/EU), an annual living allowance (£15,650) and a Research Training Support Grant (for travel, consumables, etc).
Home and International applicants (inc. EU) are welcome to apply. Following the UKRI announcement regarding their new 30% UKRI international recruitment policy (to take effect from September 2021) both Newcastle University, and Northumbria University, have agreed to pay the international fee difference for all International applicants (inc. EU) who are awarded a DTP studentship. Interviews will take place in February 2022.
How to apply: View Website

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