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QUADRAT DTP: New methods for the ’visualisation’ of dynamic and multi-dimensional data in Earth and environmental systems

Project Description

Digitalisation and large, multi-dimensional, dynamic data are now the main stay of Earth and Environmental Science, but how we visualise, handle, analyse and make decisions from these datasets is still a significant challenge. Policy makers and funders are beginning to realise this challenge with funding and government initiatives addressing areas such as digitalisation, big data and artificial intelligence.

Effective data analysis and visualisation can better inform public and policy objectives. Using a series of environmental case studies (see below), the project will investigate how data from multiple sources and dimensions can be better visualised (DiBiase et al. 1992) and/or sonified (Hermann et al. 2011), representing both the data and dynamic interactions between the data and decisions made from them. Within 3 to 4 of the case studies, the student will learn: to manage and manipulate large datasets, signal processing techniques, GIS, coding (python), and about environmental management, policy trade-offs and environment and social issues. Data will come from existing projects: BGS/UKGEOs, EPSRC-ORE SuperGen Hub, NERC – Faultlab, Newton Fund-nBOSS, NERC-ADVENT.

Case Studies:

1 Energy transition and the subsurface – The Earth’s direct response to injection of fluids into the crust is a topical issue in use of the subsurface for energy transition (geothermal, CCS) with societal concerns. Using publicly available data including hydraulic pump, micro-seismic and logs, the student will investigate presentation of these for the interpretation and communication of subsurface processes.

2 Energy and the marine environment - In a rapid explosion of offshore energy developments, large scale floating windfarms will compete for space with fishing, oil and gas platforms and Marine Protected Areas. New marine spatial planning regulations demands that all stakeholders need to be consulted on future planning, but the range of environmental impacts and in particular the cumulative effects are unknown. The student will use data visualisation to examine the trade-offs between policies for our energy security, marine conservation and low carbon production.

3 Seismic risk and hazard - Seismic hazard causes a risk to life in many areas and effective communication is key. Using data from networks of seismometers deployed to monitor earthquake hazards in Turkey and North Borneo, intermittent seismic hazard indictors such as earthquake location, type and magnitude will be simply and effectively communicated to local people.

4 Low carbon transport - Environmental impact assessments consider projects in isolation and the cumulative impact of change is not considered by policymakers, stakeholders and the public as they cannot access and interrogate the spatial information and interactions.

The student will visualize transport proposals and their interactions, to reduce transport carbon emissions in NE Scotland in the context of other low carbon initiatives: wind farms, afforestation and bioenergy crops.


Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a minimum of a 2.2 Honours degree may be considered providing they have a Distinction at Master’s level.


• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geosciences
• State name of the lead supervisor as ‘Name of Proposed Supervisor’ on application
• State ‘QUADRAT DTP’ as Intended Source of Funding
• Select the to apply now

Funding Notes

This project is funded by the NERC QUADRAT-DTP and is available to UK/EU nationals who meet the UKRI eligibility criteria. Please visit View Website for more information.

The studentship provides funding for tuition fees, stipend and a research training and support grant subject to eligibility.


DiBiase, D., MacEachren, A.M., Krygier, J.B. and Reeves, C., 1992. Animation and the role of map design in scientific visualization. Cartography and geographic information systems, 19(4), pp.201-214.

Hermann, T., Hunt, A., Neuhoff, J. G., editors (2011). The Sonification Handbook. Logos Publishing House, Berlin, Germany.

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