Healthy, well-functioning natural wetlands are critically important, yet the world is rapidly losing these important habitats due to anthropogenic pressures (Ramsar Convention on Wetlands 2018). Located in Hampshire, Greywell Fen (also called Greywell Moors or Odiham Marsh) is a nationally important alkaline fen, which has been negatively affected by a nearby groundwater abstraction plant now operated by South East Water (SEW), and by tree encroachment. As part of its commitment to sustainability, SEW will soon cease abstraction to improve groundwater conditions in the fen.
The Loddon Observatory (University of Reading), South East Water and the British Geological Survey are offering a fully funded PhD as part of the NERC SCENARIO doctoral training programme to investigate and model the impact of habitat management and groundwater abstraction on the hydrology of the fen. It will be supervised by Joanna Clark (University of Reading), Anne Verhoef (University of Reading), David Macdonald (British Geological Survey) and Debbie Wilkinson (South East Water).
The main aims of this project are to:
- assess the relative importance of groundwater abstraction and tree encroachment on hydrological patterns at Greywell Fen using historical and current field observations and hydrological modelling;
- investigate the value of using non-standard datasets such as sub-daily groundwater depths and soil temperature to calibrate hydrological models in groundwater-dependent wetlands; and
- assess the hydrological effects of a range of abstraction mitigation and vegetation management scenarios.
To address these aims examples of the varied tasks required to be undertaken by the PhD student will include:
- thermal surveys to map high-resolution spatial patterns in groundwater seepage;
- geophysical surveys to develop a stratigraphic model of the fen and underlying deposits;
- development, calibration and validation of a high-resolution integrated hydrological model of the fen, using existing data recorded by SEW and data to be collected by the student; and
- use of the model to assess the impact of a range of groundwater abstraction and habitat management scenarios.
The student will have access to the Reading Researcher Development Programme and will be able to apply to NERC-funded advanced training short courses and policy internships. The student will also receive bespoke training in hydro(geo)logical fieldwork techniques, data analysis and modelling, geophysics, and communication of environmental science, provided by UoR, BGS and SEW specialists. There will be an opportunity to undertake placement(s) and additional training at SEW’s headquarters in Snodland (Kent) and/or laboratory in Farnborough (Hampshire). The student will join the Loddon Observatory programme, as well as a cohort of 5 PhD students and over 20 researchers working on the NERC LANDWISE project (2017-2021).
How to apply:
This project is funded by the SCENARIO NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, subject to a competition to identify the strongest applicants, and by South East water. To apply, please follow the instructions on the SCENARIO website. The deadline for applications is 25 January 2019. A description of the project can be found here.
Applicants should hold or expect to gain a minimum of a 2:1 Bachelor Degree, Masters Degree with Merit, or equivalent in physical geography or a closely related environmental or physical science.
Due to restrictions on the funding this studentship is only open to UK students and EU students who have lived in the UK for the past three years.