PhD studentship in Geospatial Engineering: Continental hydrological surface loading deformation from GNSS observations

Newcastle University

Newcastle upon Tyne, UK ūüá¨ūüáß

Award Summary

100% fees covered, and a minimum tax-free annual living allowance of ¬£17,668 (2022-23 UKRI rate). 


Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) provide precise measurements of the Earth‚Äôs surface movements associated with a variety of geophysical phenomena such as plate tectonics and sea-level change. 

GNSS-derived surface displacements times series are used to estimate the so-called secular linear velocities, under the assumption that tectonic plates move as rigid bodies. To what extent this assumption is correct directly affects our ability to construct accurately the spatial and temporal patterns of the Earth’s surface deformation. 

One of the processes that challenge this assumption is related to crustal deformation due to fluctuations in terrestrial water storage. The seasonal exchange of water between the continents and the oceans generates changes in surface loading that causes elastic deformation of the Earth’s surface. This project will focus on using GNSS observations to characterize crustal deformation caused by the redistribution of water mass across a broad range of timescales, and assess how this affects our ability to estimate meaningful secular velocities of the Earth’s crust. This will also improve our understanding of the broad-scale continental hydrological signals.

The main objective of this project is to assess the extent to which hydrological loading can explain the geodetic signal in GNSS time series.

Number Of Awards: 1

Start Date: 18th September 2023

Award Duration: 3.5 Years

Application Closing Date: 3rd February 2023

Sponsor: Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Newcastle University


Eligibility Criteria

You must have, or expect to gain, a minimum 2:1 Honours degree or international equivalent in a relevant subject or subject relevant to the proposed PhD project (inc. physics, geodesy, engineering etc.). Enthusiasm for research, the ability to think and work independently, excellent analytical skills and strong verbal and written communication skills are also essential requirements.

Home and international applicants (inc. EU) are welcome to apply and if successful will receive a full studentship. Applicants whose first language is not English require an IELTS score of 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in all sub-skills.

International applicants may require an ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) clearance certificate prior to obtaining their visa and to study on this programme. 

How To Apply

You must apply through the University‚Äôs Apply to Newcastle Portal 

Once registered select ‚ÄėCreate a Postgraduate Application‚Äô.  

Use ‚ÄėCourse Search‚Äô to identify your programme of study:  

¬∑        search for the ‚ÄėCourse Title‚Äô using the programme code: 8040F

¬∑        Research Area: Geomatics

¬∑        select ‘PhD Civil Engineering (full time) Geomatics’ as the programme of study 

You will then need to provide the following information in the ‚ÄėFurther Questions‚Äô section:  

¬∑        a ‚ÄėPersonal Statement‚Äô (this is a mandatory field) – upload a document or write a statement directly in to the application form  

¬∑        the studentship code ENG105 in the ‚ÄėStudentship/Partnership Reference‚Äô field  

¬∑        when prompted for how you are providing your research proposal – select ‚ÄėWrite Proposal‚Äô. You should then type in the title of the research project from this advert ‚Äď and provide your own statement. 

Contact Details

Dr Achraf Koulali





IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development