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Risk CDT - Risk and uncertainties in applying process based morphological model to offshore wind farm induced coastal erosion and flooding management

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M Li
    Dr J Cooper
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted

Project Description


This is a project within the multi-disciplinary EPSRC and ESRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) on Quantification and Management of Risk & Uncertainty in Complex Systems & Environments, within the Institute for Risk and Uncertainty. The studentship is granted for 4 years and includes, in the first year, a Master in Decision Making under Risk & Uncertainty. The project includes extensive collaboration with prime industry to build an optimal basis for employability.

There is a rapid growth in offshore wind energy in recent years in the European water. The European Wind Energy Association 2013 report estimates an eight times increase in capacity by the end of 2020, which contributes to 4% of the European electricity demand.

However, existing understanding of the impact from large scale offshore wind farms on coastal processes is still very limited, and leads to large uncertainties and risk in coastal defence and management scenarios. Recent remote sensing detects large scale turbine wake behind the wind farm structure under strong tidal condition around UK coastal waters (Vanhellemont and Ruddick 2014), North Sea (Baeye and Fettweis 2015) and around China coasts (Li et al 2014), which is clearly beyond the expected values. Sediment transport process near the shoreline can be affected as a result of such large scale effects. The experiences in USA (Jacobson et al 2014) also suggest potential influences of turbine structure on offshore large storm and possible changes in coastal flood level.

More recent modelling study based on simple 2D depth-averaged method has demonstrated the potential of using process based morphological model in predicting complex hydrodynamics and the morphological changes around the offshore wind farm (Bagel et al 2015). Work based on the extended TELEMAC3D on large scale application at SE England also indicates the feasibility of using improved modelling technique to capture details of turbulence and enhanced sediment suspension around individual structures (Yin et al 2014). Based on these developments, the risks and uncertainty associated with offshore wind farm can be calculated and modelled, and how these risks are dealt with can be addressed at much detailed level than before.

This project focuses on sediment transport around individual monopoles and morphological changes around large scale offshore wind farms, effects of modifications on long term sediment pathway and on near shore flood risk. The project aims to assess risk and uncertainties associated with offshore wind farm operation by: Quantifying sediment transport around the wind farm site and resultant sediment pathway; modelling the effects of wind farm on storm propagation and dynamics around coast; modelling the changes in sea level due to climate events and future variations; and quantify the risk level based on typical climate event around UK coastal waters. The project will use laboratory measurements in waves around cylinder and group cylinders to quantify the effects of turbine foundation on surface wave propagation and dispersion and associated sediment transport process. The measured data will be used to validate the wave module and sediment transport module. The published and unpublished data on morphological and process changes around existing offshore wind farm sites will be used to validate the hydrodynamic modules and morphological predictions. The model will then be driven by UK Climate Projection 2009 (UKCP09) for the 2020s and 2050s under low and high emission scenarios at designated offshore wind farm sites. By testing different situations, with and without offshore wind farm, the modelling will be able to identify the effects of these structures on coastal process.

The project will involve placements for up to 6 months with the partner, National Oceanography Centre. Applicants should have a background in Mathematics, Engineering (preferably Civil or Environmental) and Environmental Sciences (Oceanography, Geology or Environmental Sciences). The project requires a good numerical background and a keen interest to work at the interface of environmental, modelling and oceanographic scientists. To be eligible for funding, you must either be a UK citizen or a European Union national. The project, as well developing skills applicable in an academic setting, will deliver excellent training in the knowledge required to work in a variety of environmentally-facing careers.

Funding Notes

The PhD Studentship (Tuition fees + stipend of £ 14,296 annually over 4 years) is available for Home/EU students. In addition, a budget for use in own responsibility will be provided.

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