PhD Position in Multi-Source Remote Sensing
for Enhanced Flood Modelling


Closing date: 5th January 2018
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne and Aberdeen, UK

Project Description

Flooding is a major societal challenge with significant direct and indirect impacts. Hydrodynamic models are important for accurately modelling floods and understanding adaptations required to improve resilience. These models require topographic data defining the channel and floodplain. Currently, this is assembled through relatively sparse measurements from cross-sections and walk-over surveys. However, emerging remote sensing techniques are of increasing relevance and offer a non-contact means of deriving detailed topography and other key variables related to hydromorphological characterisation (e.g. pool-riffle sequences, gravel bars, riparian vegetation). Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones), in combination with compact digital cameras, can deliver high resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) and orthoimagery, which offer a flexible and low-cost approach for reach-scale characterisation. Furthermore, recent developments in airborne laser scanning (lidar) enable remote measurement of river bathymetry and water depth, with great potential for seamless mapping of fluvial topography. However, there remain significant challenges in intelligent extraction of relevant variables, requiring development of enhanced segmentation algorithms and adoption of big data analytics approaches. This project will collect UAV datasets at an existing test site, and integrate this with bathymetric lidar for reach-scale characterisation of key variables for flood modelling, leading to the following objectives:

  • Assemble multi-source remote sensing datasets of channel and flood-plain topography;
  • Develop novel, big data approaches for intelligent and automated extraction of key variables;
  • Integrate derived variables into an existing hydrodynamic model;
  • Validate the approach through application to a monitored test site environment.

Person Specification: Applicants should possess an MSc or BSc (First Class) or equivalent, in a relevant subject area such as geomatics/geodesy, hydrology, computing science, physical geography, etc. Graduates in mathematics, physics, and engineering with an interest in applying their skills to the environmental sciences are also welcome. This project requires strong numerical and analytical skills, and relevant programming experience (e.g. Python, R, Java, Matlab, C++, etc.). Applicants must be comfortable in undertaking field work, including UAV surveys (full training will be provided).

Funding Notes: This 3.5 year studentship is jointly funded by The James Hutton Institute and Newcastle University, UK, and will commence September 2018. The student will spend a portion of time at both organisations. This is a competition funded studentship, with full funding available for successful UK or EU applicants. International applicants who possess suitable self-funding are also invited to apply.

Application process: in the first instance, please contact JHI supervisor Dr Pauline Miller pauline.miller@hutton.ac.uk to express your interest, supplying a CV and covering letter.

Closing date for applications: 5th January 2018

posted: 04 December 2017     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.