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NERC GW4+ DTP Projects 2020: (Changing Planet) Modelling coupled human-water systems: Characterising human-water interactions and their impacts on future water scarcity

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, January 06, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

By 2050, it is projected that England will be facing severe water supply shortages due to climate change and increasing demand from growing populations and societal development. Consequently, it is vital that we predict how water resources may change in the future to ensure adequate water supplies for drinking, food, energy production and societal development. Despite the impact of human-water interactions (such as reservoir storage and irrigation) on freshwater resources, only sparse data have previously been available to characterise human-water use and these interactions are often neglected in hydrological models or represented at coarse spatial resolution. This PhD will deliver new understanding of human-water interactions and their impacts on river flows to provide robust assessments of (future) water scarcity that are essential for policy and decision makers. The overall aim of this project is to quantify the impacts of human water use and climate change on future water scarcity across the UK by developing novel tools for the simulation of coupled human-water systems at both local and national scales. This will encompass the following objectives:
Build an integrated modelling framework that couples hydro-climatic processes with human-water systems across multiple scales. This will be achieved by incorporating (1) groundwater and surface-water abstractions, (2) reservoirs and (3) return flows into DECIPHeR (Coxon et al, 2019). Characterise behavioural patterns of human-water use from historical hydro-climatic and human-water use data to examine the interactions and feedbacks between natural-human water fluxes over time. Project human-water use and climatic impacts on future water scarcity using high-resolution, regional climate simulation ensembles (i.e. UKCP18, MaRIUS Drought Event Sets), stochastic rainfall generators capable of simulating potential climate change scenarios (i.e. STORM) and future water demand scenarios from socio-economic datasets. Trade-offs, interactions and the importance of human-water use and climate variability on future water scarcity will be determined using sensitivity analysis techniques. We expect these objectives to evolve in line with the student’s interests and for the student to refine the research objectives as their ownership of the research develops. The student will have the opportunity to do a three month placement at Wessex Water to determine how the tools and water scarcity projections developed during the student’s PhD can be used for decision making on future water resource planning.

Funding Notes

This project will suit a candidate with excellent quantitative skills and communication skills, with the ability to collaborate in a multi-disciplinary team. The candidate will have a skillset acquired through the study of Physical Geography, Civil Engineering, Earth Sciences or similar disciplines that has involved the use of data analysis and numerical modelling at BSc and ideally MSc level. Experience in numerical modelling (e.g. hydrological or earth system modelling) and coding/scripting (e.g. R, Python or Matlab) is highly desirable.

How good is research at University of Bristol in Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology?
Geography

FTE Category A staff submitted: 46.45

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

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