Environmental Change
Ai P. Vardhanabindu

Ai P. Vardhanabindu

'Quantifying micro-topographic changes of soil surface due to soil erosion by water'
University of Liverpool and Mahidol University Scholarship 
Supervisors: James CooperJanet Hooke and Hugh Smith
Description: Being able to parameterise the surface roughness and sediment transport, so as to predict the hydraulics of overland flow, is crucial for understanding the probability of soil detachment. Existing methods to characterise the surface roughness and sediment transport are unable to accurately measure the small-scale changes that occur due to soil erosion. However, combining two techniques as known as ‘Structure from Motion’ (SfM) and ‘Particle Tracking Velocimetry’ (PTV) will enable the ability to measure the changes in a significantly small scale. - Email Ai

Alice Harvey

Alice Harvey-Fishenden

'Human response to historic drought in Staffordshire through archive sources'
AHRC CDA Studentship with the Staffordshire Record Office 
Supervisors: Neil Macdonald, Alex Buchanan and James Bowen
Description: Previous work on historic drought has concentrated mainly on reconstructing the past climate and drought series, without fully engaging with the experience of people affected by drought. Through the use of archive material at the Staffordshire Record Office, and by engaging with volunteers, this project will explore how people have responded and adapted to drought and water shortage over time, with a focus on the eighteenth century, for which there is a large amount of previously unexplored material. - Email Alice

Ben Phillips

Ben Phillips

'Future vulnerability of evolving gravel barrier coastlines and the impacts for flood risk management'
NERC Liverpool-Manchester Doctoral Training Partnership: Understanding the Earth, Atmosphere and Ocean. CASE partner: Cardigan Bay Coastal Group
Supervisors: Professor Andy Plater, Dr Jenny Brown (NOC), Dr Martin Hurst (Glasgow University), Professor Gerd Masselink (Plymouth University) and Dr Karyn Morrisey (Exeter University).
Description: This research will extend the capability of a coastal vector evolution model to include a sediment transport formulation for gravel barrier coastlines. Once validated against historic trends in shoreline recession, the model will assess the future evolution of gravel barriers under various management strategies (e.g. ‘hold the line’) and future wave climates, and how this impacts the long-term flood risk. A cost-benefit analysis will then be developed to understand the cost of management schemes in present day values and to determine the increase in resilience generated by different options. - Email Ben

Carmine Donatelli

Carmine Donatelli

'Impact of Hurricane Sandy on the salt marshes of Chincoteague Bay, Virginia, and Barnegat Bay'
Project funded by United States Geological Survey 
Supervisors: Dr. Nicoletta Leonardi and Professor Andy Plater
Description: Located at the delicate interface between marine and terrestrial environments, salt marshes are ecosystem-based flood defenses and help reducing the impact of storms and hurricanes on coastal communities. In order to understand wetlands behaviour under different climate conditions, we are using the numerical model COAWST (ROMS+SWAN+WRF). - Email Carmine

Celestine Nwite Nwojiji

Celestine Nwite Nwojiji

'Ecological Functioning of Zoo and Phytoplankton Communities across the Late Paleocene – Mid Eocene Hyperthermal Events'
Ebonyi State Government of Nigeria scholarship 
Supervisors: Fabienne Marret-Davies 
Description: This research intends to explore the functioning of communities as recorded in marine (microfossils) sediments during the Palaeocene – Eocene hyper thermal events, understand the feedbacks of the current anthropogenic greenhouse  on the global ecosystem  and forecast the first order changes for the future climate. - Email Celestine

Charlotte Lyddon

Charlotte Lyddon

'Tide-Surge Interaction in Generating Extreme Water Levels in a Hypertidal Estuary'
Graduate Teaching Assistant
SupervisorsProfessor Andrew Plater (University of Liverpool) and Dr Jenny Brown (National Oceanography Centre)
Description: The ability to model extreme water levels and sea defence overtopping in hypertidal estuaries, where tide gauge data is limited, is important to allow infrastructure and communities to assess future options to mitigate coastal inundation. The project aims to create a validated, 3D hydrodynamic model to generate scenarios of extreme water levels in the Bristol Channel. Delft 3D will be used to propagate extreme water levels up the Severn Estuary, incorporating tide-surge-wave-river interaction and the capacity of the floodplain to reduce the surge height up-estuary. The project will focus on Oldbury-on-Severn and Berkeley; sites of current and future nuclear operations. - Email Charlotte

Chris Feeney

Chris Feeney

'Residence times of contaminated sediment in river floodplains'
University of Liverpool, NERC Liverpool-Manchester DTP
Supervisors: Hugh Smith, Richard Chiverrell, Janet Hooke and James Cooper
Description: The UK has a long history of metal mining, which has released several millions of tons of fine sediment and metals into rivers. Although such activity has ceased, floodplains throughout polluted catchments act as vast, chronic stores of metalliferous contaminants. The aim is to accurately quantify pollutant residence times by accounting for climatic and land-use changes in a catchment with contaminated floodplains. Results should be vitally important for better understanding contaminant dynamics and prioritising remediation. - Email Chris

Fiona Russell

Fiona Russell

'Lake sediment records of organic matter'
Graduate Teaching Assistant 
Supervisors: John Boyle and Richard Chiverrell 
Description: The aim of this PhD research is to collect, analyse and interpret a suite high resolution lake sediment records for sediment characteristics associated with natural organic matter cycling. - Email Fiona

Hazel Philips

Hazel Phillips

'Testing the robustness of the base-line data required to assess and mitigate flood risk in lacustrine environments using multi-proxy evidence' 
EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) Studentship
Supervisors: Neil Macdonald, Richard Chiverrell and Jonathan Bridge
Description: Current understanding of flood risk in the UK is heavily constrained by the length and quality of the flood record, flood histories derived from gauging stations in the UK have an average length of ~30 years with just a few sites providing long term records. Sediment archives from lacustrine environments have the potential to extend flood histories much further to include climatic variability and landscape change, reducing the uncertainty involved with projections of future flood risk based on short term records. This research will examine depositional lacustrine environments within the Lake District and the opportunities these environments present in constructing robust chronologies of flooding. - Email Hazel

Karen Halsall

Karen Halsall

'Modelling Fire and its relationship with climate, vegetation and people in Northern European peat habitats across the Mesolithic/Neolithic boundary'
Supervisors: Richard Bradshaw and Fabienne Marret-Davies
Description: The role of fire as an ecological process affecting vegetation dynamics will be tested over millennial timescales in relation to climatic and non-climatic drivers using an approach that links the palaeo-records of charcoal, testate amoebae, pollen, NPP’s and geochemistry for an upland ombrotrophic bog in the Peak District (UK). This work includes developing a digital image analysis method for quantifying charcoal concentrations in sediment. - Email Karen

Kieran Newman

Kieran Newman

'Simulation and Validation of Combined Waves and Tides in Complex Near-Shore Environments'
NERC Earth, Atmosphere and Oceans Doctoral Training Programme, University of Liverpool & National Oceanography Centre
Supervisors: Dr Paul Bell (National Oceanography Centre), Dr Jenny Brown (National Oceanography Centre), Prof. Andy Plater (University of Liverpool)
Description: Coupled models of waves, tides, and surge, and their interactions in coastal environments, can often be significantly influenced by the complex bathymetry in the domain. Accurate knowledge of this bathymetry and its evolution is thus important to improve the accuracy of such models. One method of obtaining bathymetric information is through the use of X-band radar data. However, this method is dependent on accurate water level information, currently provided by single point tide gauge measurements. There is potential to improve the accuracy of both the models (by incorporating bathymetric information from radar measurements) and the methods to analyse radar data (by modelling to give spatial variations in the tidal height and wave set-up). - Email Kieran

Madeleine Moyle

Madeleine Moyle

'Phosphorus budgets and monitoring for the Midland Meres'
NERC-CASE Studentship with Natural England
Supervisors: John Boyle, Richard Chiverrell, Mark Riley, Mags Cousins (Natural England) and Ken Downward (Natural England)
Description: My research is focused on the impact of human activity on catchment phosphorus (P) flux at Crose Mere, a SSSI in north Shropshire. Increased P input to a water body can result in eutrophic conditions which can have detrimental impacts on biodiversity. National targets for total P are in place for these environments however many sites, including Crose Mere, have P levels well above the desired nutrient status. The aim of the project is to work towards understanding what mitigation practices would need to be in place to achieve good ecological status at Crose Mere. This will involve a programme of fieldwork and labwork to examine past conditions and monitor the current nutrient status which will inform the production of scenario-based projections for future catchment P flux at Crose Mere. - Email Madeleine

Olli Billson

Oli Billson

'Coastal impacts of extreme storms: the role of infragravity waves'
Supervisors: Dr Nicoletta Leonardi, Prof Andy Plater, Prof Paul Russel, Prof Gerd Masselink and Dr Mark Davidson
Description: The high energy nature of extreme storms at the coast has severely restricted experimental deployments, resulting in a limited understanding of the key processes driving rapid coastal change. One such process, the transport of sediment via infragravity (I.G ) waves, has been observed playing an increased role during high energy conditions, but as yet, is not well understood. In response, working along side Plymouth University's rapid coastal response unit (RCRU), the project will examine how the role of IG waves in coastal sediment budgets varies under range of hydro and morphodynamic conditions. This project is funded through the Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory in partnership with Coastal Engineering Ltd. - Email Olli

Phil Knight

Phil Knight

'Tidal Level Measurements for Coastal Resilience and Survey'
LCEI Studentship with Marlan Maritime Technologies
Supervisors: Professor Andy Plater, Dr Jason Kirby and Dr Jennifer Brown (NOC)
Description: This research aims to develop an effective sensor deployment to monitor tidal levels that then improve the accuracy of radar-based mapping of intertidal beach and tidal flat morphology.  This sensor capability also has the potential to be used with fixed camera and video surveys, particularly during storms.  Ultimately, the end-product is a service that feeds into strategic management of the coast, identifying regions of long-term beach lowering and where the coast is particularly sensitive to scour during extreme events. - Email Phil

Rachael Lem

Rachael Lem

'Determining the millennial and centennial variability of the West African Monsoon system' 
Supervisors: Fabienne Marret-Davies & Jim Marshall 
Description: The last decades have seen catastrophic droughts in the Sahel driven by a reduction in precipitation linked to changes in the adjacent oceanic temperature. But what remains unclear is whether this pattern of weak precipitation is part of a natural cycle or is linked to climate warming. This project combines pollen, stable isotope and major element analyses to examine climatic variability over the past 140,000 years using a 34 m marine sediment core from the Gulf of Guinea. The data will then be incorporated into, and used to test global climate models. - Email Rachael

Sam Godfrey

Sam Godfrey

'Monitoring Changes in Beach Morphology: Coastal Analytics for Resilience to Climate Change' 
Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory
Supervisors: Prof. Andrew Plater and Dr. James Cooper
Description: Coastal areas are highly dynamic and the ability to monitor morphological change is vital to pre-empt flooding and erosion events. Existing methods of beach monitoring can have high costs and low temporal resolution. Here, an innovative optical remote-sensing technique is developed to permanently monitor and map morphological changes to the supratidal zone. The technique will aid coastal resilience plans, optimise the use of soft-engineering practices and provide greater understanding of coastal geomorphology. - Email Sam

No Picture

Simon Clark

'Risk of river flood inundation under climate change: assessment of the relative effects of changes in plant growth and flood regime on conveyance'
EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) Studentship
Supervisors: Dr James R. Cooper, Prof Janet Hooke, Ming Li, and Dr Ponnambalam Rameshwaran (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology)
Description: A key component to understanding how river flood risk alters under climate change is how riverine channelized vegetation interacts with flow and exaggerates local water depth. Currently vegetation have been absent from predictive hydraulic models, resulting in large degrees of uncertainty regarding river management programs and flood risk estimation.  The development of a flood risk estimation tool capable of modelling vegetation-flow dynamics will expediate action on reducing flood risk under an uncertain climate. - Email Simon

Sion Regan

Siôn Regan

'Predicting Riverbank Erosion on a Catchment Scale'
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Supervisors: Hugh Smith (Primary), Neil Macdonald and Edoardo Patelli
Description: Riverbank erosion is a complex process occurring at a range of scales. Large scale bank collapse, fluvial entrainment and local scale weathering all contribute to riverbank erosion. Modelling approaches usually either focus on small scale processes, working on single bends or short reaches; or on large scales with simplifying assumptions made to reduce the data requirements. This project will attempt to work at the interface between these two approaches. - Email Sion

Thea Wingfield

Thea Wingfield

'Developing a tool box for natural flood risk management'
NERC-CASE Studentship with The Ribble Rivers Trust 
Supervisors: Karen Potter and Neil Macdonald 
Description: Minimising the flood risk to communities has been traditionally achieved through expensive hard engineering that requires regular modernising and maintenance. There has been a policy shift to move towards more sustainable and resilient approaches. Natural flood management aims to understand, manage and enhance flood attenuation characteristics within the landscape. - Email Thea

Thomas Redfern

Tom Redfern

'The mitigation of hydrological challenges in the peri-urban landscape (working title)'
Nerc and hosted at CEH Wallingford
Supervisors: Neil Macdonald 
Description: Urban development is increasing and intensifying across the world as towns and cities expand to meet the demands for housing and economic development of the worlds growing population. The urbanisation of previously natural landscapes can dramatically alter the hydrological functioning of streams, rivers and groundwater with potential consequences for flood risk management, hydro-ecology and water resources. Hydrological modellers, engineers and environmental managers increasingly require the ability to understand and model the hydrology of diverse urban landscapes to quantify and manage the impacts of urbanisation on the hydrological system.

By using an intensive field monitoring campaign of rainfall, runoff and soil moisture in two case study residential catchments in Swindon (UK) my research investigates how changes in development patterns over the 20th Century have resulted in differences in hydrological behaviour. Crucially my work is focussed at small scales within the urban environment, where engineering effort could be best applied to help reduce the impacts of urbanisation on hydrological systems. - Email Tom

Veronica Escobar

Veronica Escobar Ruiz

'Modelling the effects of agricultural land use and climate change in virtual catchments'
Mexican Government scholarship (CONACYT and SEP) 
Supervisors: Hugh Smith, Neil Macdonald and Edoardo Patelli
Description: The project aims to quantify impacts on catchment flow generation and sediment transport from agricultural land use and climate change. To achieve this, a set of catchments that represent distinct agricultural environments will form the basis for simulating a large range of scenarios using physically-based runoff and erosion models. - Email Veronica