River flow and water temperature are critically important for riverine physical, chemical, and biological processes. There are many potential societal benefits if we can advance our understanding of: i. spatial and temporal dynamics and sensitivity of river temperature to catchment management and climate change, and ii. potential future trajectories given anticipated environmental change. While climate change can be expected to have a significant impact on riverine temperature, the effects will be spatially variable, with marked differences between the catchment headwaters, alluvial reaches downstream and extending into the freshwater – marine transition zone.
At present, most river temperature studies have been conducted at the sub-basin scale; and there has been a marked lack of large-scale analyses of the thermal trends that are essential in developing assessment and management tools. The problems are compounded in basins, such as the River Thames, where flow regulation and groundwater abstraction in the upper catchment affect flows downstream.
This studentship will address these critical research needs by generating novel information on future changes in UK river temperature and ecosystem health. Specific aims are to:
1. Assess the sensitivity of the River Thames to projected climate change using a coupled river flow and water temperature model.
2. Quantify the impacts of these projections on ecosystem health (e.g. dissolved organic matter dynamics).
3. Assess the impacts of catchment interventions on the freshwater – marine transition zone.
Information from 1 and 2 will be used to attribute trends in river water temperature to catchment / river management and long-term climate change.
The project will ultimately lead to the development of models to predict future river temperature changes based upon currently available catchment descriptors thereby enhancing our ability to identify viable mitigation and adaptation strategies for anticipated future increases in river temperature.
CENTA studentships are for 3.5 years and are funded by NERC. In addition to the full payment of their tuition fees, successful candidates will receive the following financial support:
Annual stipend, set at £14,777 for 2018/19
Research training support grant (RTSG) of £8,000