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Evaluating spatio-temporal subsurface water storage dynamics in catchments using non-invasive high-resolution sensing technologies

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

Project Description

This project focuses on evaluating the combined use of non-invasive water storage sensing technologies (geophysical imaging and cosmic ray sensing) to improve modelling and forecasting of subsurface water storage dynamics for catchment water resources management.

Hydrological models provide crucial tools in predicting the responses and recovery to climatic extremes and land management stresses. While the development and implementation of many environmental and land use / management policies strongly depend on catchment scale, the uncertainties associated with model simulations can be up to orders of magnitude and beyond any impacts predicted.

Traditional point/plot-scale studies (e.g. soil/borehole sampling) are unable to capture spatial heterogeneity while large scale satellite remote sensing studies are too coarse. Recent developments in novel sensing of subsurface water storage dynamics at more relevant scales offer great potential to improve hydrological modelling and forecasting. These innovative sensor technologies include cosmic ray sensing (CRS, also known as COSMOS) and advanced use of geophysical imaging techniques. While CRS provides high temporal resolution data on water storage in the very shallow subsurface, geophysics enables high spatial resolution estimates and at larger depth. The project will explore in details the spatiotemporal correlation between the two techniques and how they can be integrated for enhanced parameterisation and verification of catchment hydrological models.

The research will be based in two contrasted catchments in Aberdeenshire, where hydrological and CRS monitoring is already in place. It will involve acquisition of complementary data where relevant, including geophysics, and training in application and processing of non-invasive sensing techniques and hydrological modelling. The 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 water resources management.

The successful candidate should have, or expect to have, an Honours Degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Earth and Environmental Sciences

Essential background:
MSc in Earth and Environmental Sciences (e.g. Hydrology, Soil sciences, Hydrogeology, Geophysics, Geosciences, Geography, Environmental Engineering, or any other relevant, numerate, scientific discipline)

Knowledge of:
Hydrology, Catchment science, Near surface geophysics, Hydrological modelling, Water resources management, Soil Science

Funding Notes

There is no funding available for this project, it is for self-funded students only


This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of the discipline of Geography. Formal applications can be completed online: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply. You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geography, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. NOTE CLEARLY THE NAME OF THE SUPERVISOR and EXACT PROJECT TITLE ON THE APPLICATION FORM. Applicants are limited to applying for a maximum of 2 projects. Any further applications received will be automatically withdrawn.

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

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