Being able to accurately quantify the transport of fine sediment (sand particles and finer) in rivers is hugely important for many reasons, for example because it is a major mode of pollution transport, it affects in-stream habitats and biodiversity, the sustainability of infrastructure (e.g. flood defences), and it can increase flood risk. At present the best fine sediment flux measurements are only estimates of cross-sectional averages. However, in large and/or complex and dynamic rivers, sediment fluxes will vary greatly over cross sections, and these variations are likely to be important. The aim of this project is to resolve, for the first time, these cross-sectional variations to enable a step-change in fine sediment flux and budget calculations. The results of this research would be of direct relevance to river management, especially to those working on the effects on rivers of changes in land use and climate. An important potential application for this research is the development of flood alleviation schemes which commonly involve diversion of flood flows through side channels or reservoirs. Understanding the movements of sediments in these systems are a critical aspect of their design and operation. The project will use state of the art Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) technology mounted on a radio-controlled boat. As well as gaining specialised expertise related to this technology, you will also gain a strong understanding of how its measurements fit into the wider context of sediment flux estimation, river habitat suitability assessment and application to real world problems such as the development of flood alleviation schemes.
This project offers the opportunity to collaborate with the Environment Agency with respect to the Lower Thames flood alleviation scheme and with the ADCP’s developers in San Diego, California on adapting their instruments for this exciting new application.
Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Environmental Science, Geography, Natural Sciences or Engineering.