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ONE Planet DTP - Will fish cope with climate change? A conjunctive use approach for regulating stream temperature to maximise natural habitat survival rate during heatwaves. (OP202020)

  • 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

Heatwaves are becoming more frequent in areas where they are least expected. Recently, a major heatwave in South East England resulted in the death of nearly 6000 fish. Similar events have been reported globally, e.g. Alaska, Australia, and Brazil. In all cases, heatwave (directly or indirectly like the UK case) and ineffective water resources management were identified as the contributing factors. In the UK, one response was deploy aeration equipment and to use hydrogen peroxide in affected stretches of rivers to boost oxygen levels. However, these approach leaves chemical traces in the stream that is harmful to the riverine environment. Furthermore, selective withdrawals have also been recommended as a preventive measure to mitigate this climate-related risk. Reservoir releases to the river system are made through lower level outlets where the pool has a lower temperature, yet not all dams allow a selective withdrawal. This project will explore a conjunctive use approach to regulate stream temperature. Groundwater aquifers typically contain colder water, depending on the geography, topology, and depth of the aquifer. Groundwater abstraction from suitable candidate locations could be made to decrease stream temperature.

This project aims to investigate: How much water and from which sources (surface or groundwater) must be conjunctively taken to maintain stream temperature during extreme heatwaves? How does this affect other demand zones of a water resources system (e.g. communities, industries, and farmers)? Rivers in the South East England affected by the recent heatwave will be taken as the case study and the UKCP18’s temperature projection will be taken as the input. The methodological approach would include: (1) Identifying and quantifying the type of the algae common in the UK heatwave incident and the temperature threshold that triggers its explosion; (2) Identifying the type of natural stream habitat living in the selected rivers and minimum and maximum temperature threshold within which it survives;(3) Locating the adjacent aquifers, investigating the possibility of conjunctive use, and collecting date regarding minimum/maximum allowable piezometric head, aquifer properties, etc.(4) Developing the required modelling framework and carrying out the modelling exercise. The successful candidate will develop Environmental Impact Assessment knowledge and skills, understanding of ecological standards, and optimisation and simulation skills in the field of water resources systems and river management.

Funding Notes

This project is part of the ONE Planet DTP. Find out more here: View Website

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