August 17, 2022

Modelling the future of coastal soft cliffs under changing climate

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship within the NERC-ENVISION Doctoral Training Partnership with a project entitled: “Modelling the future of coastal soft cliffs under changing climate”. Coastal soft cliffs are extremely important components of coastal environments worldwide. Their retreat is a global problem that threatens coastal communities. Climate change affects soft cliffs retreat; however, research is needed to understand and quantify this effect. To do so, we also must understand and model physical the drivers of failure of soft cliffs.

This PhD project will develop numerical methods to describe the future behaviour of soft cliffs and analyse two case studies representative of cliff/beach systems worldwide: the Happisburgh (U.K.) and Montauk Point, Long Island (USA) coasts. The project will start by analysing existing data, integrated with new field work, to clarify and model the physical processes driving cliff failure that are still poorly understood. Thereafter, the focus will be on devising an innovative technique to model the long-term behaviour of these systems. Finally, the effect of climate change on cliff retreat in the two case studies will be modelled, under high-end emission scenarios of the IPCC.

The student will be based at the University of Nottingham (U.K.) and they will work in close collaboration with the British Geological Survey (U.K.) and Stony Brook University (U.S.A). They will spend part of the PhD at Stony Brook University for the study of the Montauk Point cliff.

The student should possess a strong background and interest in physical processes of natural systems, numerical modelling, and statistics. Familiarity with coastal dynamics models (e.g. one-line models, SWAN) and data analysis with MATLAB are welcome. They will join the Coastal Dynamics and Engineering research group at the University of Nottingham, which is specialized in the theoretical and numerical study of coastal processes.