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In hot water: How will climate-driven water level changes impacts lakes?

   School of Biological & Environmental Sciences

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  Dr I Jones, Dr E Mackay, Dr A Law  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Climate change is the dominant global environmental problem of our time, while lakes are sensitive sentinels of change. Nevertheless, our current understanding of climate change impacts on lakes is largely based on how atmospheric warming will lead to increased water temperatures and thermal stratification, and the consequences these changes will impose on the chemistry and biology in standing waters. Future changes and variation in evapotranspiration and precipitation, however, are predicted to disproportionately affect lakes and, as a result, lake water levels will also change substantially.

This project will investigate how changes in water level will affect temperature and oxygen dynamics in lakes across the globe, using a combined monitoring and numerical modelling approach. These changing water levels will have consequences for lake temperature and the variation in temperature with depth – stratification – that, in turn, will alter oxygen dynamics in lakes and the likelihood of deep-water anoxia developing. As temperature and oxygen are of fundamental importance to the lake ecosystem, long-term changes in water level will affect water quality and ecosystems in lakes around the world. These impacts need to be understood in order to ascertain which lakes and regions are most at risk of a deterioration in water quality so that appropriate remediation measures can be employed.

The PhD will combine fieldwork and high-resolution automated monitoring in two study sites, Airthrey Loch on the beautiful University of Stirling campus and Elterwater, a small lake in the English Lake District. This will be combined with numerical modelling to study the effects of lake shape and climatic region on the effects of water level change on temperature and oxygen dynamics. The project offers an exceptional training and development opportunity in a full range of techniques used in modern lake science. The studentship will be based at the University of Stirling, and the student will additionally benefit from a placement at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (Lancaster), one of the largest groups of lake scientists in the UK.

Further information

Further information can be found at the Iapetus2 page:


The application deadline is Friday 6th January 2023 at 12:00 noon. By this time applicants must have submitted an application through the IAPETUS DTP online application system (open from 1st November 2022) further details are here: https://www.iapetus2.ac.uk/how-to-apply/. However, serious applicants should contact the lead supervisor by email well before the deadline to discuss their application.  

Initial shortlisting will take place immediately after the 6th January deadline. Those candidates who are successful in shortlisting will be required to attend an IAPETUS interview on Tuesday 28th February or Wednesday 1st March 2023.  

UKRI eligibility rules enable a small proportion of IAPETUS PhD studentships to be awarded to non-UK applicants from overseas and for successful international candidates we will apply to Stirling University to waive overseas fee costs; applicants from overseas should contact the lead supervisor to discuss this.  

Supervisory Team

Dr Ian Jones ([Email Address Removed]), Dr Eleanor Mackay ([Email Address Removed]) & Dr Alan Law ([Email Address Removed])

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