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The importance of subsurface sedimentary heterogeneity for the hydrology of temporary streams

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  • Full or part time
    Dr J C Comte
    Dr C Gibbins
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

This PhD project represents an exciting opportunity for someone to join the active and expending research group of the Northern Rivers Institute (NRI). The Institute is a centre of research excellence in environmental hydrology which delivers internationally leading catchment science to help underpin sustainable water management. NRI undertakes fundamental research to help understand the hydrological functioning of catchments as well as being involved in applied work such as river restoration. This project focuses on understanding the hydrology and fluvial dynamics of temporary rivers. Such rivers are threatened worldwide by a range of human activities and broad scale environmental changes. Understanding how they function is therefore critical to help develop sustainable management strategies for coming decades. A critical knowledge gap relates to how subsurface sedimentary conditions control the spatial and temporal dynamics of flow in temporary streams. The project will assess how the characteristic of sediments in the subsurface (particularly spatial heterogeneity) influence the interactions between channel water and aquifers; in particular it focuses on how these interactions influence flow duration and flow recession.

This project will be based at the Northern Rivers Institute, which undertakes fundamental research to help understand the hydrological functioning of catchments as well as being involved in applied work such as river restoration.

This project focuses on understanding the hydrology and fluvial dynamics of temporary rivers. Such rivers are threatened worldwide by a range of human activities and broad-scale environmental changes. For example catchment land cover change, increasing abstraction from surface and groundwater stores, and climate change are affecting runoff patterns and, in turn, the hydrology of temporary streams. These streams are important ecologically because they support biological communities which are distinct from those found in their permanent counterparts. These communities have evolved to cope with life in streams which flow for only part of the year. However, if because of human activity, the time without water increases these communities will come under threat.

Understanding how temporary streams function hydrologically (ie. what physical factors control how long they flow for) is therefore critical to help maintain biodiversity and develop sustainable management strategies for coming decades. A critical knowledge gap relates to how subsurface sedimentary conditions control the spatio-temporal dynamics of flow in temporary streams. The project will assess how the characteristics of sediments in the subsurface (particularly spatial heterogeneity) influence the interactions between channel water and aquifers.

The research will be based in the English Lake District, in a catchment which is the focus of a major river restoration initiative. As part of this initiative, flow has been restored to a temporary stream. The project aims to understand how the heterogeneity of subsurface sedimentary conditions in the catchment of this stream influences its flow regime, including flow duration and recession. It will involve acquisition and training in integration of geophysical imaging and remote sensing with hydrological monitoring and modelling.

Essential Background: Equivalent of 2.1 Honours Degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences (eg. Geology, Geography, Environmental Engineering, Hydrology, Environmental Sciences)

Knowledge of: Fluvial processes, Surface and Groundwater Hydrology, Sedimentology, Geophysics, GIS

The other supervisor on the project is Professor Dubravka Pokrajac (Uni of Aberdeen, Engineering)

Funding Notes

The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for Tuition fees, living expenses and maintenance. Details of the cost of study can be found by visiting www.abdn.ac.uk. There is NO funding attached to this project. You can find details of living costs and the like by visiting http://www.abdn.ac.uk/international/finance.php.

References

This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of the discipline of Geosciences.

Formal applications can be completed online: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply. You should apply for PhD in Geography, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. Please ensure that you quote the project title and supervisor on the application form.

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr J C Comte ([email protected]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ([email protected]).

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