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Understanding and improving the assessment of wind risk to Irish forests


   Department of Civil Engineering

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  Prof Mark Sterling, Prof N Metje  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Forests provide a multitude of ecosystem services.  Furthermore, their ability to help regulate the atmosphere in terms of capturing and storing carbon means they are a key component in helping to battle climate change.  However, strong winds can interact with forests and lead to tree uprooting and/or breakage.  This can cause considerable damage, lead to major financial losses for forest owners and create a breeding ground for forest pathogens. The annual loss to the forest industry in Ireland due to strong winds is estimated to be approximately €1.3 million every year. Future climate projections suggest an increasing frequency of winter storms in Ireland, these will pose significant risk to the forest resource. Therefore research which allows for the assessment of wind risk to Irish forests as a result of changing weather conditions and strategies to minimise this risk are warranted. 

This exciting and interdisciplinary project aims to examine how the wind interacts with the forest and to measure the wind induced forces on trees within a forest. To that end, reduced scale, physical experiments will be undertaken in the University of Birmingham’s large wind tunnel.  Model trees will be designed and instrumented to determine the rotating force at the tree/ground interface. The project will specifically explore the effect that intermittent gust loading can have on individual trees.  This will form the basis of a numerical model which will then be used to predict tree overturning/breakage for a variety of future conditions.

Applicants should have a good primary degree (First- or Second-class Honours) or MSc in an engineering discipline ideally with a focus on fluid mechanics/dynamics and good numerical modelling skills. The successful candidate should be highly motivated, have good communication skills and must be prepared to work within a multidisciplinary team and with other PhD students. Some experience working in the field or the laboratory would be advantageous. A successful candidate will be required to have a driving licence to facilitate the field collection of data.

Award

The scholarship funding is €24,000 per annum and includes University fees of up to a maximum of €6,000 per annum and is tenable for 3.5 years. This PhD Fellowship is a joint research project between Teagasc, Athenry and University of Birmingham. The student will be based in Birmingham, UK, working under the supervision of Prof Mark Sterling, Prof Nicole Metje and Dr Niall Farrelly of Teagasc. Some travel to Ireland will be necessary over the period of the study to cover data collection, project meetings and presentation at Teagasc seminars.


Funding Notes

Funding is available at Home rates. Overseas students may apply, but would need to make up the difference.
The scholarship funding is €24,000 per annum and includes University fees of up to a maximum of €6,000 per annum and is tenable for 3.5 years. This PhD Fellowship is a joint research project between Teagasc, Athenry and University of Birmingham. The student will be based in Birmingham, UK, working under the supervision of Prof Mark Sterling, Prof Nicole Metje and Dr Niall Farrelly of Teagasc.

References

(https://www.teagasc.ie/crops/forestry/research/reducing-windthrow-losses-in-farm-forestry/). Last accessed 8th June 2019.
Fitzpatrick, P. J. (2000) Timber volume and value losses associated with catastrophic winthrow. Unpublished MAgrSc Thesis, University College Dublin, Ireland. (cited in http://www.coford.ie/media/coford/content/publications/2018/SM23ManagingWindthrow160418.pdf)
Schuck, A., Schelhaas, M.J. 2013. Storm damage in Europe – an overview. In: Gardiner, B., Schuck, A., Schelhaas, M. J., Orazio, C., Blennow, K., Nicoll, B. (eds.): Living with Storm Damage to Forests. What Science Can Tell Us, 3, 15–23.
Schwarzhauer, P., Rauch, P. 2013. Impact on industry and mar- kets – roundwood prices and procurement risk. In: Gardin- er, B., Schuck, A., Schelhaas, M. J., Orazio, C., Blennow, K., Nicoll, B. (eds.): Living with Storm Damage to Forests. What Science Can Tell Us, 3, 64-69.
Peltola, H. 2006. Mechanical stability of trees under static loads. American Journal of Botany, 93(10), 1501-1511.
Moore, J. R., Manley, B.R., Park, D., Scarrott, C.L. 2013. Quantification of wind damage to New Zealand’s planted forests. Forestry, 86, 173-183.
McInerney, D. Barrett, F., Landy, J., and McDonagh, M. 2016 A rapid assessment using remote sensing of windblow damage in Irish forests following storm Darwin. Irish Forestry 73. 161-179.
Hendrick, E. 1989. The effect of cultivation method on the growth abd root anchorage of Sitka spruce. Irish Forestry 46.
Wills, J., Sundstrom, E., Niewenhuis and Keane, M. 2001. The impact of soil preparation method on water table depth in Irish forest plantations on wet mineral soils. Irish Forestry. 57. 46-58.
Ni Dhubhain, A., Walshe, J., Bulfin, M., Keane, M and Mills, P (2001) The initial development of a windthrow risk model for Sitka spruce in Ireland. Forestry, Vol. 74, No.2, 161 – 170.
Ni Dhubhain, A., , Bulfin, M., Keane, M and Mills, P., Walshe, J. (2009) The development and validation of a windthrow probability model for Sitka spruce in Ireland. Irish Forestry, Vol. 66, 51 – 74.
Ni Dhubhain, A., Farrelly, N. 2018. Understanding and managing windthrow. COFORD Connects silviculture/Management note No. 23. COFORD, Dublin.
Gonzalez, G.F. 2017. The influence of thinning on tree stabiloity in Sitka spruce. MSc thesis, UCD, May 2017.
Pivato, D., Dupont, S., Brunet, Y. 2014. A simple tree swaying model for forest motion in windstorm conditions. Trees 28: 281-293.
Sofko, P. and Kodrik, M (2008)_Comparison of the root system architecture between windthrown and undamaged spruces growing in poorly drained sites. Journal of Forest Science 54(4). 150-160
Rodgers, M., McHale,J., and Mulqueen, J. 2006. Stability of Sitka spruce on mole-drained and ploughed surface water gley soil. Irish Forestry 63.
https://swsforestry.ie/why-plant/forestry-facts/ Last accessed 8th June 2019
Miller, K.F. (1985) Windthrow hazard classification. Forestry Commission Leaflet. No. 85. HMSO London
Gardiner, B.A., Stacey, G.R., Belcher, R.E. and Wood, C.J. 1997 Field and wind tunnel assessments of the implications of respacing and thinning for tree stability. Forestry 70(3), 234–252.
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