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Investigating the impact of climate change on riverine flooding (Advert Reference: SF18/MCE/MOTTA)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Dr D Motta  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Riverine flooding evaluation typically includes a hydrologic analysis to estimate the flood peak discharge or hydrograph for a reference return period, and a hydraulic model to compute the corresponding water surface elevations and flooded areas. Climate change may cause a change in peak flow magnitude and frequency, ultimately because of the change in rainfall magnitude and frequency, which means that flood areas and flood protection systems are be reanalysed.

Agencies responsible for flood risk evaluation (the Environment Agency in the United Kingdom) have developed climate change allowances (anticipated changes to) peak river flow and peak rainfall intensity, based on climate change projections. Compared to coastal flooding, where the allowance for sea level rise already provides a measure of flooding, the complexity of the rainfall-streamflow processes make the impact of climate change on riverine flooding more difficult to quantify and more site/catchment-specific.

This project will first evaluate the current suggested allowances against the latest climate change projection studies from literature. Then, through the study of flooding for appropriately selected catchments, this project will evaluate how climate change allowances, which are different for different river basin districts in the United Kingdom, “translate” into different responses in terms of riverine flooding. The analysis of this non-linear and catchment-specific response to increased rainfall will focus on the impact of different topographies, land uses/soils, and river geomorphologies. Most of the data will be obtained from publicly available sources (Environment Agency, EDINA).
The findings of this research project will be useful to the flood mapping practice and will help prioritize the future riverine flooding mitigation measures in the United Kingdom.

General knowledge in Hydrology & Hydraulics (H&H) modelling is essential. Previous experience in flooding studies, in academia and/or industry, is highly desirable.

Please note eligibility requirement:

* Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]) in Civil Engineering (Water Resources), Environmental Engineering, Physical Geography, or similar; or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
* Appropriate IELTS score, if required

This project is well suited to motivated and hard-working candidates with a keen interest in Hydrology & Hydraulics (H&H) modelling, flooding-related issues, and impact of climate change. The applicant should have excellent communication skills including proven ability to write in English.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF18/MCE/MOTTA) will not be considered.

Start Date: 1 March 2019 or 1 June 2019 or 1 October 2019

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University hold an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

This is an unfunded research project


I have extensive experience in conducting studies and writing reports on evaluation of external flooding hazard for nuclear power plants, levee certification/freeboard uncertainty, and flood mapping, accumulated while working as Water Resources Engineering Professional at Wood (formerly Amec Foster Wheeler, formerly Amec), from July 2013 to December 2017, in the offices of Blue Bell/Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) and Chantilly (Virginia). The main clients were nuclear energy companies, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and local municipalities.
I am also currently co-teaching module KB5025 Hydraulics and Hydrology (BEng (Hons) Level) and module EE0749 Wind and Water Infrastructure Engineering (MEng (Hons) Level) in the Department of Mechanical and Construction Engineering at Northumbria University, where I teach hydrologic and hydraulic numerical modelling with direct application to flooding studies.
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