Hydrology - PhD Opportunities

The Global Institute for Water Security (http://www.usask.ca/water/) and the School for Environment and Sustainability (http://www.usask.ca/sens/) at the University of Saskatchewan are seeking two Ph.D. candidates for the following positions. These projects are funded by the Global Water Futures program (www.gwf.usask.ca), and the students will be part of a team that will develop and deliver next generation modelling and observation techniques.

Hydrological processes in frozen soils

Details: Where does the water go following snowmelt? Does it go into the soils or run overland into ponds and channels? This is one of the most important questions in cold region hydrology. The result determines whether or not there is a flood, and how much water is available for crops. To address this, we need a better understanding, and better models, for flow processes in frozen soils. Project objectives include: (1) critically reviewing the state of the art in coupled heat and mass transport modelling in frozen soils; (2) proposing improvements that deal explicitly with gaps in our understanding of physical processes; and (3) validating new models using field data and/or laboratory experiments. The primary focus is frozen soils in the Canadian prairies, and there will be opportunities to undertake field work.

The impact of frozen soils on boreal Forest hydrology

Details: The Boreal Forest plays an important role in the global carbon cycle, the regional climate system, and the water cycle of a number of large watersheds. To predict how climate change and human activity will impact the forest in the future, we need to understand what aspects of this vast and sparsely monitored area are critical to represent carefully within large scale models. For example, is it adequate to treat all needle-leaf trees as a single homogeneous plant functional type, or should try to characterize drought tolerant pine and wetland loving black spruce differently? Critical gaps are broadly associated with quantifying transpiration from different tree-species and the impact of frozen soils on infiltration and transpiration. The objective of this project is to: 1) perform a critical review of hydrological processes in the Boreal Forest and how these are represented in a range of land-surface models; 2) apply suitable models to the BERMs sites in Saskatchewan, where we have detailed observations of the vertical water, energy and carbon balance; 3) develop new algorithms and parameterizations that can be implemented in next generation improved models that are being developed in the Global Water Futures program. Field sites are in the southern Boreal Plains Ecozone.


  • Master's degree in Hydrology, Engineering, Science, Applied Mathematics or related field of study
  • Knowledge of computer programming
  • Strong capability to apply computer models
  • Familiarity with exploratory data analysis and statistical methods
  • Successful application to the College of Graduate Studies and Research

In addition, the candidate should have:

  • Ability to work in a collaborative manner with team members
  • Strong oral and written communication skills


A three-year scholarship is available for a qualified individual through the Global Water Futures program (details listed here: https://gwf.usask.ca/articles/2017/gwf-phd-excellence-scholarships.php)

How to Apply:

Prior to applying, please contact Dr. Andrew Ireson:

Dr. Andrew Ireson
Assistant Professor
School of Environment and Sustainability
University of Saskatchewan
Email: andrew.ireson@usask.ca

General admission requirements and an on-line application form can be found at the College of Graduate Studies and Research (CGSR) website: www.usask.ca/cgsr/admission/index.php

Candidates must also submit official transcripts, their CV, and a brief statement of research interest (approximately 1-3 pages in length) that includes:

  • Specific areas of interest that could lead to a thesis topic;
  • A description of why the applicant wants to pursue research in the interdisciplinary context of the School of Environment and Sustainability;
  • A description of any employment or study experiences that relate to the research interests described.

Transcripts and statement of research interests are to be directed to:

Chair, Graduate Affairs Committee
School of Environment and Sustainability
University of Saskatchewan
Room 323, Kirk Hall
117 Science Place
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5C8
email: sens.admissions@usask.ca

Application Deadline:

To be eligible for additional funding via scholarships, please apply by December 15, 2017.

For additional information on this opportunity you are strongly encouraged to contact Dr. Andrew Ireson before applying:

Dr. Andrew Ireson
Assistant Professor
School of Environment and Sustainability
University of Saskatchewan
Email: andrew.ireson@usask.ca

posted: 16 October 2017     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.