Water repellency (hydrophobicity) is widespread in natural and agricultural soils. Hydrophobicity increases surface runoff and reduces soil cohesion, therefore promoting flooding and soil erosion. It also promotes the preferential flow of contaminants and nutrients into the groundwater, bypassing the plant root zone. Hydrophobicity and extreme weather have an intricate, two-way connection: hydrophobicity amplifies the consequences of extreme rainfall via flooding and soil erosion, while also being a consequence of global warming because excessive drying, wildfires, and greywater irrigation (due to shortage of freshwater) induce hydrophobicity.
This fully-funded PhD project, aligned with GCRF theme, aims to provide the first proper representation of the underlying physics in watershed models. As such, it will improve our ability to predict and mitigate floods and soil erosion, reducing their impact on communities, agricultural and natural soil and water resources–a subject of increasing attention, e.g. see a recent news item.
This is a highly interdisciplinary project, integrating physics and earth sciences with geography. We seek a highly-talented, motivated, and open-minded candidate, with background in one or more of these disciplines. Experience with computer simulations as well as laboratory experiments is highly desirable.
About the Research Centres:
Coventry University has been the UK’s top modern university for seven consecutive years (Guardian University Guide 2013-2019) and holds a number of other prestigious accolades. The Centre for Fluid and Complex Systems brings together a wide range of expertise and facilities for the measurement, characterization and modelling of fluid flows. The Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience is rapidly building a global reputation for high-quality transdisciplinary research into processes of resilience in food and water systems. The successful candidate will thus be part of two of the UK’s leading research centres, with strong links to research institutions and companies around the world.