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ONE Planet DTP - Assessing glacial lake outburst flood hazard evolution under a changing climate (Ref: OP20237)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 31, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Mountain environments are sensitive to changes in climate, which impacts the volume of glacier ice and the extent of frozen ground, as well as the magnitude and frequency of catastrophic mass flows. Glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) are high magnitude, low-frequency, process-chain events, which pose a risk to life and can cause catastrophic damage to downstream infrastructure, settlements, and property. The present hypothesis is that such floods will increase in frequency in coming decades and into the next century. Further, there is an ever-increasing pressure on the environment from expanding populations and infrastructure development, including hydropower. There is therefore an urgent need to conduct regional- and site-scale glacial lake hazard assessments in an efficient, systematic and objective manner to identify sites that pose the greatest threat.

It is anticipated that this project will:
1. Develop an automated, community-focused, open-source tool for objectively identifying glacial lakes and their temporal evolution at a regional scale
2. Develop tools for application at a site-specific level for quantitatively assessing the factors that make a lake hazardous or not, and the triggering mechanisms that may lead to an outburst event
3. Explore the major controls on the temporal evolution of lake hazard, particularly with reference to future climate and catchment deglaciation
4. Employ state-of-the-art numerical models to simulate flood hydraulics and landscape response

It is anticipated that there will be project fieldwork in high-mountain environments. Fieldwork will focus on testing field-based methods of hazard assessment against the remote procedure. This project benefits from industrial support via CASE partner Reynolds International Ltd., providing access to additional facilities, expertise and datasets

Applicants should have a keen interest in high-mountain environments, hazard assessment, numerical modelling, geospatial analysis, and possess demonstrable skills in remote sensing and GIS techniques, programming (preferably in Python), and a strong background in a physical geography, Earth sciences, environmental sciences or a related discipline. Experience of research into high-mountain environments and associated fieldwork is desirable but not essential.
For more info, please contact Dr Matt Westoby ().

Eligibility and How to Apply:
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]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

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. OP.....) will not be considered.

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 holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

We have a minimum of 12 (3.5 year) PhD fully funded studentship awards available for October 2020 entry. Each award includes fees (Home / EU), an annual living allowance (for 2019/20 this is £15,009) and a Research Training Support Grant (for travel, consumables, as required).

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