NERC Panorama DTP studentships – applications now open

Applications for the main NERC Panorama DTP studentship competition for October 2022 entry are now open, the application deadline is Wednesday 5th January 2022.

There are 26 highly competitive NERC  fully funded studentship awards for session 2021/22 covering the full cost of University fees plus Maintenance of £15,609 (2021/22 rate) per year for 3.5 years, and a generous research training and support grant (RTSG). Applications for all projects are open to both home and international applicants, please note the number of fully funded awards open for international applicants is limited by UKRI to 8. Projects are searchable by key word and theme.

We have gathered together a list of the water-related Leeds based PhDs available below. 

Water sector resilience through Adaptive Systems Planning (WASP)

Project aim: The hypothesis we will test through this project is that, by combining the capabilities of Adaptive Planning and Systems Thinking within a rapid scenario analysis capability (hence referred to as Adaptive Systems Planning or ASP), water utilities will be better equipped to ensure service resilience, whilst balancing the needs of all stakeholders and the environment.

Comparison of natural and plastic microfibres in rivers

Project aim: The overall aim of this project is to better understand the presence, sources and fate of natural and plastic fibres in river catchments.

How can we make use of all the UK’s weather radar data to improve flood forecasting? Multifrequency Dual-Polarisation Doppler Radar Rainfall Retrievals for the UK

Project Aim: Flooding is one of the highest impact natural hazards and is forecasted to become increasingly frequent and extreme due to climate change. Accurate, timely, and high-resolution precipitation observations underpin the Met Office’s and Environment Agency’s joint approach to forecasting, warning, and responding to flooding. The overall goal of this PhD is to improve the compositing of available UK weather radars to increase the accuracy of quantitative estimates of precipitation (QPE).

Climate, water and society in arid regions: from ancient civilizations to the Anthropocene

Project Aim:  Assess existing climate model simulations in relation to hydrological and societal changes over the last 6000 years in the arid regions of North Africa, the Middle East and central Asia. Develop models of the hydrological systems in these regions and how the climatological and societal impacts change over time. Simulate and understand present and future changes in these hydrological systems and how they may affect the populations that live here.

Simulating groundwater flow and contaminant migration in heterogeneous alluvial sediments

Project aims to answer these questions: What is the best approach for predicting contaminant transport in heterogeneous glacio-fluvial sediments? How can we reconstruct of the spatial distribution of permeability and sorption properties based on the available core sample data? By applying the above in combination with future climate, what is the envelope of possible contaminant impacts from the site arising from subsurface migration?

 Biodiversity and ecosystem multifunctioning in rivers with modified flow regimes

The main aim of the PhD is to increase understanding of how river flow management influences the structure (e.g. algae/invertebrate biodiversity) and/or functioning (e.g. production, decomposition, carbon cycling; Manning, 2021) of river ecosystems.

Smart Rivers: Using sensor networks to understand carbon cycling in regulated rivers

Project Aim: to address the potential for monitoring environmental flow changes (e.g. seasonal compensation flows, artificial floods) using sensors, to gain an improved understanding of how water managers can use technology in their efforts to improve the status of heavily modified, regulated river ecosystems. An interdisciplinary approach will allow the student to develop a project that integrates elements of (1) hydrology, (2) physicochemical processes (water quality, temperature), and (3) river functional responses (e.g. primary production, ecosystem respiration, whole system metabolism). work will focus on developing automatic data quality control and visualisation techniques, for example to underpin a web interface for use by water managers.

Water-table management in lowland agricultural peatlands for climate change mitigation

In this project, you will work with scientists at the University of Leeds and UK Centre of Ecology and Hydrology to answer some unresolved questions around the practicalities and sustainability of a range of water management techniques in lowland agricultural peatlands. Fieldwork will take place at an instrumented site near Doncaster, which is part of a £5m Greenhouse Gases Removal Demonstrator (GGR-D) project funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The carbon balance of gullied and hagged blanket peatlands

This PhD would investigate the carbon balance of eroded blanket peatlands where there are peat ‘haggs’ (high remnant points) surrounded by lower eroded components such as gullies. The study will examine hagged peatlands incorporating hagg top and gully bottom locations, for a range of hagg heights, in three key states: i) eroding/stable with no active restoration or ‘self-healing’; ii) managed through active peatland restoration management; iii) naturally self-healing sites where revegetation is occurring.

Proglacial landscape evolution with climate change across Jostedalsbreen, Norway

Studies addressing both the physical changes in the cryosphere and the impact of such changes on the surrounding nature and society are few and often restricted to individual glaciers or certain impacts. To address this important topic on a regional scale, this project will study the largest ice mass in mainland Europe, Jostedalsbreen (c. 474 km2 in 2006) in southern Norway. The ice cap is surrounded by a variety of societal interests such as hydropower, tourism, agriculture and water supply, and with frequent natural hazards such as outburst floods, avalanches and slushflows affecting local infrastructure, business and homes.

Novel landscape-response models to plan for rising sea levels: using submerged environmental records to inform coastal decision making

Prroject Aim: To include, but not limited to: Reconstructing and dating the timing of palaeoenvironmental change in the southern North Sea using cores from offshore of Norfolk, the Thames and the Dogger Bank; Assessing the ecological and landscape response to rising sea level based upon stratigraphy and/or microfossils in the cores; Developing landscape evolution models of environmental change to rising sea levels during the early and mid-Holocene.

Temperature-water-plant-soil coupled modelling for slurry optimization in agricultural soils as a nature-based solution for flooding management

Project Aim: to develop a slurry system that provides good performance for crops but also aids flood management provided by farms to the wider landscape. It will investigate the influence of coupled roots-microbes-slurry functioning on nutrients transport (N2), and the physical properties of soils (e.g. permeability, macropores,  stability) under extreme weather conditions.

Controls on short-term calving glacier dynamics

The global retreat and thinning of mountain glaciers and ice sheet margins is a well-documented consequence of recent climate changes, impacting both downstream hydrology and freshwater availability and eustatic sea-level rise.

Project Aim: To intensely monitor glacier calving processes alongside environmental/lake data collection at one site for a season/year; To partition mass loss between surface melt and calving volumes at that site (or multiple sites nearby); To determine the controls on that mass loss partition from a wider light touch monitoring campaign/analyses of other data sources and analysis of the longer-term remote sensing data archive.

We encourage you to apply following these guidelines.