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The Analysis of Urban Growth and Surface Permeability informed by Earth Observation Data

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  • Full or part time
    Dr A Hagen-Zanker
    Dr B Marti-Cardona
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

University of Surrey, Center for Ecology & Hydrology, Wallingford.

The aim of this project is to develop integrated tools for the mapping, analysis and forecasting of processes of urban growth and densification, with a focus on the increase in paved area and its effects on surface permeability. The work is organized into three main objectives, to be realized on a common set of three case studies drawn from urban areas in the UK.

Objective 1: Classification of urban extent and surface permeability: This work starts with a review of concepts and methods for the interpretation of earth observation data, with a specific focus on data integration methods for accurate mapping of paved land at the urban scale and quantification of uncertainty. The classification will apply a land cover typology that is simultaneously relevant to surface permeability and urban growth processes.

Objective 2: Analysis of trends in urban growth and surface permeability: This work starts by reviewing concepts and methods in urban change analysis. Using data from the UK census as well as satellite images, the change analysis will consider both the growth of urban extent and different aspects of densification. The sensitivity of a variety of metrics to classification errors will be investigated and robust descriptive indicators of urbanization trends will be proposed.

Objective 3: Urban growth and surface permeability forecasting: This work will apply existing frameworks for forecasting land use change through spatial simulation. In order to manage and understand the uncertainty associated with the forecasts, recent methods developed in support of environmental modelling will be brought into practice. The hydrological impact of impermeability will be quantified in terms of peak flow increase, so attenuation measures such as Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems can be accounted for accordingly.

More details are available on the project description at and on videa at

To apply, please refer to the SCENARIO website at

Funding Notes

The project is part of the SCENARIO Doctoral Training Partnership and is potentially fully-funded, subject to selection based on candidate excellence in February 2017. Under Research Council UK rules, funding is available for UK students or EU students who have lived in the UK for the past 3 years. Other EU students are eligible for fees-only funding. Funding is not available for international students.

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