The River Basin Processes and Management research cluster at the University of Leeds provides international leadership in understanding and managing environmental processes and feedbacks that control and link water, sediment, solute and biotic dynamics in river basins, estuaries and marine systems. The Cluster has recently announced a variety of funding opportunities for water research.
A fully-funded NERC Industrial CASE studentship will examine the hydrological function of organo-mineral soils in downstream flood risk.
We seek to understand hydrological processes operating in upland organo-mineral soils and how their management and vegetation cover influences river flow peaks. This novel field, lab and modelling project will expand our knowledge on the function and hydrology of upland soils which are of high conservation value. The project will directly provide urgently needed management decision-making evidence on upland soil management for flood peak reduction. Organo-mineral soils cover around 20 % of the UK, and are particularly common in upland areas with the main types being stagnohumic gleys and acid brown earths. Unlike peatlands, the function and hydrology of organo-mineral soils is globally very poorly understood with major gaps in the literature. These soils typically underlie upland heathland and grasslands in areas with high conservation value. It is unclear whether these soils are dominated by throughflow (and what their typical permeability range is), infiltration-excess overland flow or saturation-excess overland flow in different topographic contexts and rainfall events. It is also unclear how management of organo-mineral soils impacts their role in runoff generation.
There is an urgent need for evidence on ‘nature-based’ flood management solutions, particularly in UK uplands – source areas for the UK’s major rivers. Recent modelling work on peatlands by researchers at the University of Leeds has shown that controlling overland flow velocities by changing the surface cover conditions in key spatially identifiable parts of the catchment can play an important role in reducing flood peaks (by up to 20 % for some rainfall events) (Gao et al., 2016). However, we do not have data from organo-mineral soils, which are likely to function quite differently to peat, to inform such modelling and so practitioners have limited basis for upland management decisions which may benefit those downstream at risk of flooding.
The student will be part of the River Basins Processes and Management cluster in the School of Geography and water@leeds which is the world’s largest interdisciplinary university-based water research centre. water@leeds hosts 140 PhD students. These groups provide access to routine training through seminars, structured feedback on project ideas and technical training. The successful PhD student will have access to a broad spectrum of training workshops that range from technical through to generic skills building. The supervisory team will provide training on soil hydrological processes and modelling.
This is a fully-funded 4 year studentship providing full UK/EU level fees and a tax-free maintenance stipend of approximately £14,500pa. To apply, please submit an application for study and the required supporting documents listed here by 9 January 2017
Additional projects with water@leeds include:
Projects eligible for NERC DTP funding 2017/18
- Analysis, occurrence and effects of flubendazole in moorland river catchments
- Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC) dynamics in the headwaters of the Amazon, Peru
- Surface melting of mountain glaciers: the effect of ice surface properties on melt rates
- Alpine river microbial community response to shrinking glaciers
- Hydrological processes, carbon fluxes and peatland gullies
- Closing the hydrological budget in tropical peatlands
- Using environmental tracers to test the effectiveness of Natural Flood Management techniques
- Investigating marine benthic ecosystem response to global environmental change
- Upland soil functions under organic grazing systems
- Global vulnerability of permafrost peatlands to rapid climate warming
Projects without funding
- Impact of long-term restoration on peatland hydrological processes
- Dynamics of flow resistance and sediment entrainment in gravel-bed rivers
- Estimating the carbon sink and greenhouse gas forcing role of China’s peatlands
- Ecohydrological response of peatlands to climate change
- What causes the formation of pipes within peat?
- Response of testate amoebae to peatland grip blocking: implications for biomonitoring of peatland restoration efforts
- Public participation and economic analysis in European water management: Ne’er the twain shall meet?
- International cooperation and UK water management: Rationales and Outcomes of a New Mode of Experimental EU Governance