January 16, 2017

The dynamics of “ness” sediment spits

The dynamics of “ness” sediment spits 400 x 400 px

We mostly enjoy the coast by visiting the beach, which, apart from the waves and tides, can seem quite static. Viewed from the air, however, the coastline is dynamic and complex, exhibiting many curious shapes, for no apparent reason.

One feature quite common on our coasts is a sort of blunt spit, usually composed of sand and shingle: a so-called “ness”. These nesses can migrate along the coast at rates of tens of metres per year. Why they do so is not understood.

Furthermore, we cannot even predict the direction in which they will migrate. It is important that we are able to understand their behaviour better. This is because, where they occur, they can protect towns and agricultural land from flooding and the impact of waves.

If it is known that they will migrate in a certain direction at a certain rate per year we can plan ahead and use resources, like money for coastal defence structures, wisely and (sustainably) let the coast itself help to protect us too!

In this PhD project the student will undertake a theoretical and numerical study of the behaviour of nesses. We seek to understand their fundamental behaviour—how they are influenced by waves, tides etc—so that acquired knowledge may be applied to any such feature, including artificial nesses, now being considered as coastal defence measures. To help in this task existing nesses (e.g. Benacre and Orford, possibly others) will be considered.

The successful student will focus on understanding the dynamics of nesses, and then on building a numerical model to describe their behaviour. He/she will benefit from expertise of scientists and engineers working in coastal dynamics and engineering at both Nottingham University, and at BGS. He/she will also visit BGS in the Summer to experience other types of coastal work.

Students should have, or expect to obtain, a first-class or good 2:1 honours degree, or a distinction or high merit at MSc level (or international equivalent), in civil engineering, physics, mathematics or closely related disciplines. Experience of computer programming would be an advantage, although not necessary.

Please contact Professor Nicholas Dodd for further information regarding this PhD topic.