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Pathways to Realistic Impact Modelling in Estuarine Areas (PRIMEA)

Estuaries connect terrestrial and marine environments, providing one of the most productive ecosystems on Earth. Complex land-sea interactions combined with intensive land-use and land-value mean that they are at heightened risk from flooding and poor health. Worse, they are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, since sea-level rise of up to 1 m could occur this century, together with wetter winters that will change river behaviour and loading of nutrients, sediments, microplastics and harmful bacteria. An improved understanding of combination and compound risk in estuaries is, therefore, urgently needed for coastal resilience initiatives, e.g. tree-planting, flood-storage and water management. This requires a new approach where fine-scale estuarine processes are characterised – allowing the Met Office to incorporate estuary behaviour into a national-scale predictive modelling framework.

In this exciting PhD, the Met Office/NERC regional coupled ocean-land-atmosphere climate modelling system will be compared with estuary simulations performed by the student, to investigate:

  1. How flood risk will change in the future for contrasting UK estuaries
  2. The health risks to UK coastal waters, e.g. eutrophication, virus contamination and microplastics
  3. How we can incorporate estuarine systems into national-scale climate modelling

The successful applicant will become competent in a wide range of research techniques, including running hydrological and ocean models, comparing simulations to extensive observational surveys across the UK. This project is well-funded, including costs to visit scientists at the Met Office and attend international conferences to present and discuss research with world-leading scientists. By the end of this PhD, the student will have developed into a first-rate independent researcher, with a deep understanding of how climate model projections can be cascaded to estuary impact predictions, how combination risk in estuaries may change in the future, and how the Met Office may best simulate these processes in their new national modelling framework

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Geography, Environmental Science, Hydrology, Oceanography, Coastal Marine Science, Biological Oceanography, or Mathematics/Statistics. Applicants who additionally have a Masters degree, or relevant work experience, will be particularly competitive.

For further details, please contact Dr Peter Robins in the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University