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Structure and function of leaky barriers in river-floodplain systems for natural flood management


Cardiff School of Engineering

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Dr Elizabeth FOLLETT , Dr C A M E Wilson No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Cardiff United Kingdom Civil Engineering Data Analysis Data Science Environmental Engineering Fluid Mechanics

About the Project

3.5  years Full Time

Nature based solutions for natural flood management have gained popularity as a method to provide floodwater retention and ecological benefits associated with naturally occurring instream wood formations. Because present-day catchments often do not supply significant quantities of large wood pieces to river channels, engineered leaky barriers composed of many smaller wood pieces have gained popularity as an alternative option to secure the benefits of large wood presence without the use of large trees. Despite the popularity of instream wood installations, limited evidence on structure performance during extreme flood events and poor representation in flood forecast models limit technical confidence in natural flood management designs. Furthermore, little is known about leaky barrier impacts on bedload sediment transport and fine particle trapping. This project builds a physical process-based understanding of the impacts of leaky barriers on channel hydrodynamics and sediment transport through field observations, flume experiments, and modelling, developing guidance for leaky barrier installations and other natural flood management measures.

Research conducted in this project will increase understanding of the interaction between porous wood leaky barriers and the wider river-floodplain system, including aspects of sediment transport, changes in barrier structure, and performance during events at multiple discharges and varying channel characteristics. The PhD researcher will conduct experiments in unique hydraulic flume facilities at Cardiff University using a range of flow and sediment measurement techniques, such as particle image velocimetry, acoustic Doppler velocimetry, laser diffraction bed scanning and high speed cameras for which the student will receive internal and external training as appropriate. Field measurements will be conducted in partnership with a DEFRA-designated natural flood management site including analysis of pressure transducer measurements, passive integrated transponder tagged particles, and bed survey data.

Candidates should be highly motivated to undertake a PhD in research activity that will help to tackle this key environmental problem. Candidates should hold a good bachelor’s degree (first or upper second-class honours degree) or a MSc degree in an area of Environmental, Chemical, Mechanical or Civil Engineering, or Geography. Knowledge in fluid mechanics, hydraulics and sediment transport are desired. Previous laboratory or field experience would be advantageous. We seek the student to be proactive and willing to work in interdisciplinary teams by interacting with the wider community of engineers, biologists and ecologists at Cardiff University and beyond. The student will have the opportunity to undertake collaborative work with stakeholders (e.g. Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales) to expand the aims of this project across sectors.

Candidates should hold a good bachelor’s degree (first or upper second-class honours degree) or a MSc degree in an area of Environmental, Chemical, or Civil Engineering, or Geography. Knowledge in fluid mechanics, hydraulics, and sediment transport are desired. Previous laboratory or field experience are advantageous.  

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language (IELTS 6.5 or equivalent)

Applicants should submit an application for postgraduate study via the Cardiff University  webpages (http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/research/programmes/programme/engineering ) including;

·        an upload of your CV

·        a personal statement/covering letter

·        two references (applicants are recommended to have a third academic referee, if the two academic referees are within the same department/school)

·        Current academic transcripts

Applicants should select Doctor of Philosophy (Engineering), with a start date of October 2021.

In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select "I will be applying for a scholarship / grant" and specify that you are applying for advertised funding, reference EF-PSE-21

Please contact Dr Elizabeth Follett () to informally discuss this opportunity


Funding Notes

Tuition fees at the home/EU rate and an annual stipend equivalent to current Research Council rates (£15,285 stipend for academic year 2020/21), plus support for travel/conferences/consumables. International students are eligible for a fee only award only
This opportunity is available to home or international candidates.
Home students are eligible for a full award covering fees and stipend. International students may be eligible for a full award or may need to cover the difference between the home and overseas rate themselves. (This will be confirmed prior to any award offer being made)
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