PhD: Development of water retention technology for flash floods in arid regions

University of Southampton

Southampton, UK 🇬🇧

About the project

Water shortage is a serious and increasing problem in many countries. Developing technology to reduce water shortage is of prime importance. We are developing water retention solutions using an approach inspired by Roman technology.

In arid regions, the yearly rainfall is often focussed into two or three events. Large volumes of water are collected in otherwise dry riverbeds, such as wadis or canyons. Current engineering practice is to channel these flash floods to guide them through or around settlements. The water flows towards the sea as quickly as possible. This is undesirable in dry regions which suffer from acute water shortage.

There are few projects to investigate flash flood management and water retention. Roman engineers built soil retention dams, shallow dams which retained the sediment transported by the flash floods to create farmland. The farmland then served as a water retention ”sponge”, absorbing and retaining the water from flash floods. The systems were very complex and, judging by the estimated lifespan of the dams, they also were successful.

This project will investigate the flash flood management systems built by the Romans as well as current approaches. You will analyse the following areas to gain essential engineering information to design new systems:

  • the current situation and needs
  • physical model tests of flash floods
  • sediment transport
  • interaction with retention dams

Potential supervisors

Lead supervisor

Doctor Gerald Muller, Associate Professor

Entry requirements

A UK 2:1 honours or Masters degree, or the international equivalent, in either physics or engineering.

You will have an interest or experience in environmental fluid dynamics and be motivated to understand complex interactions between luid flow, the environment and human needs.

Fees and funding

For UK students, tuition fees will be paid and you’ll receive a stipend (living allowance) of £17,668 tax-free per year for up to 3.5 years.

How to apply

Apply now

You need to:

  • choose programme type (Research), 2023/24, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
  • choose PhD in Engineering & Environment (Full time)
  • add supervisor Dr Gerald Muller in section 2

Applications should include:

  • research proposal
  • your CV (resumé)
  • 2 reference letters
  • degree transcripts to date

Contact us

Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

If you have a general question, email our doctoral college ([email protected]).

Project leader

For an initial conversation: email Dr Gerald Muller ([email protected]).

62 days remaining

Apply by 1 August, 2023





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