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The effects of sea-level changes along the Thailand coast

Project Description

Current uncertainties about rates of future sea-level change mean we need better assessments and improved data integration on the operation of natural and anthropogenic processes over long time scales. Reconstructing past sea-levels is a critical first step in understanding long-term historical environmental change of coastal regions, from which other research on natural and anthropogenic
processes and responses can follow. Likewise, in order to plan for possible effects of future changes, data are needed on likely rates of sea-level change, their physical consequences and potential impacts, in order to adapt and design sustainable management plans. The proposed project is a response to calls for more research on such issues.

The coastline of Thailand is densely populated, low-lying and vulnerable to future sea-level rise and other climate-induced changes. At present, there is a lack of high quality data with which to enable accurate models of societal, environmental and economic responses to sea-level change and informed integrated coastal management plans and appropriate mitigation strategies to be developed.

Mangrove environments in Thailand provide vital ecosystem services and secure the livelihoods of coastal communities. They provide coastal defences, fishing areas, fuel and building materials and sequester carbon. They are also a key scientific resource as they preserve sediment and a rich palaeoecological record that can be used to reconstruct past sea-level and environmental changes. The research proposed will include field and laboratory work. Fieldwork will involve coring of the mangrove sediments, and surveying of all geographical features using a differential GPS. Transects of cores will be taken in the field and one representative core of the area extracted for laboratory analysis. Laboratory work will include pollen and geochemical analyses on the extracted cores to reconstruct past sea level, coastal changes and mangrove dynamics. A chronology for these cores will be developed using 14C, 210Pb and amino acid geochronology. The combined data will then be integrated within a geographical information system to produce a series of time slices over the last ~10000 years and examine future scenarios of sea-level change. The close collaboration with Thailand-based researchers will ensure these results are directed towards useful local policy.

Depending on existing expertise, the successful applicant will receive training in field sampling and surveying, laboratory analyses including pollen and particle size and dating methods. The student will be fully supported by the interdisciplinary project team in archaeological, palaeoenvironmental and geochemical aspects of the project.

Funding Notes

This is a NERC ACCE DTP studentship fully funded for 3.5 years in the first instance, and students must complete their PhD in four years. The studentship covers: (i) a tax-free annual stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£15,009 for 2019-2020), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. You can extend your funding period for up to 3 months by applying for an industrial placement.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an Upper Second Class Honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any relevant subject that provides the necessary skills, knowledge and experience for the DTP, including environmental, biological, chemical, mathematical, physical and social sciences.

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