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Changing climate and hydrological extremes in 21st Century Wales: reconstructing records of upland flooding.

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  • Full or part time
    Prof P Brewer
    Prof M G Macklin
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The project will be divided in three distinct phases. First, instrumental rainfall (typically spanning 100 years) and river flow (c. 50 years in duration) records from across Wales will be analysed to ascertain spatial and temporal trends and relate these to known environmental/ climate changes over the same period.

Second, based on the internationally pioneering studies of hydrological extreme events reconstructions by the supervisory team over the past 25 years, boulder berms and bars deposited on upland floodplains during large flood will be investigated. In steep, highrelief and small ( < 5km2) catchments that comprise the headwaters for the majority of DCWW’s water supply reservoirs, coarse flood deposits termed boulder berms will be identified and mapped across the entire Welsh uplands using high-resolution aerial photography and earth observation techniques, including LiDAR that is now available for the whole of Wales. Boulder berms will be dated using lichenometry, a technique already successfully used locally in Mid-Wales and the Brecon Beacons, and event scale flood records will be reconstructed for the last 250-300 years.

Third, in all catchments where boulder berms are present and DCWW have water impoundment or other supply-related assets, high-resolution digital elevation models will be reconstructed using AU’s UAV-mounted LiDAR. This will enable hydraulic and hydrological modelling of past extreme flood flows and precise estimates of discharge, including the largest recorded flows in each catchment and determining whether or not any of these events exceeded the possible maximum flood as determined by the Flood Estimation Handbook. In catchments where river flow is gauged, boulder berm records will be used to extend series. However, most small upland catchments in Wales are ungauged and in these streams the fluvial sedimentary archive will provide an independent check on regionally modelled or locally rain-fall based estimates of extreme floods. These data will be archived in a GIS database that will form one key components of evidence base to underpin DCWW’s resilience program over the next 10-20 years.

The prospective applicant should have a minimum of a 1st or good 2:1 in a relevant degree, and be available to take up the studentship by October 2018. The project is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the European Union’s Convergence programme administered by the Welsh Government. KESS II PhD scholarships are collaborative awards with external partners. (Applicants need to only apply, they do not need to search for partners.)

To apply, please submit the following to the Postgraduate Admissions Office (address below) by 15th February 2018

1. A completed Research Programme Application Form, two references. Application and reference forms may be downloaded from

2. A completed KESS II Participant proposal form (put the reference number AU20005 in the top right hand box of the application form) and an up-to-date CV. KESS II application forms are available to download at the link below.

3. A PhD proposal of up to 1,000 words where you expand on your experience and interests and describe why you are a good candidate for this research studentship. Please refer to the Project Description.

Value of Award: A stipend of £14,340 (rising in accordance with inflation for the remaining two years). Each scholarship has an additional budget for travel, equipment/consumables and training to support your research. KESS II PhD Scholarship holders do not pay fees.

Length: Full-time for 3 years. (Theses must be submitted 6 months after the funded three year study period.)

Training: The achievement of a Postgraduate Skills Development Award (PSDA) is compulsory for each KESS II scholar (The PSDA is based on a 60 credit award, which is an additional award to the PhD).

For further student eligibility criteria related to the individual projects, please view the details of the individual project above.

Informal enquiries should be made to Prof Paul Brewer and Prof M G Macklin at [Email Address Removed] or [Email Address Removed] ; 01970 622586 or 01970 622656

Address for applications:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Recruitment & Admissions
Student Welcome Centre
Aberystwyth University
SY23 3FB

Quote Reference AU20005

Closing date for applications 15th February 2018

Funding Notes

Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2) is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.

Eligibility: To be eligible to apply for a KESS II award, you must be resident, upon starting the scholarship, in the Convergence Area of Wales and you must be able to take paid employment in the Convergence area on completion of the scholarship.

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