WIRe CDT PhD Studentship: Modelling Groundwater Resilience under Extreme Drought

Newcastle University

Newcastle, United Kingdom 🇬🇧

Value of award

£19,000 annual living allowance and UKRI fees paid, plus a Research Training Support Grant (for travel, consumables etc.)

Number of awards


Start date and duration

September 2021 for 4 years

Application closing date

17:00 Friday 21/05/2021


UK water companies face major challenges with operating resilient groundwater resources under ever-increasing demands and uncertain future climate projections. Anglian Water have responded to this challenge by use of large spatial rainfall ensembles to derive measures of 500-year drought. The computational demand for simulations necessitates simplified lumped parameter models (LPMs), resulting in loss of accuracy both in spatial detail and process representation. This PhD aims to examine the evidence base for extreme drought resilience planning, through investigations of the critical uncertainties in drought risk assessment and development of improved modelling approaches.

Key research questions include:

(1) What are the crucial contributions to uncertainties in drought risk assessment for extreme events, e.g. from rainfall duration/intensity, lack of fundamental knowledge of watershed function or representation of hydrological processes?

(2) What level of process representation is necessary to reliably inform development of water resource resilience planning for 500-year droughts?

The candidate will lead analysis and interpretation of historical data to identify relationships between meteorological inputs and hydro(geo)logical response; generation and analysis of stochastic rainfall and evaporation data; enhancement of hydrological simulation models and application to extreme drought scenarios.  The candidate will explore numerous model systems including the Met Office stochastic rainfall generator (Advanced Meteorology Explorer) and physics-based hydrological modelling systems (SHETRAN), in addition to the development of LPMs to balance computational efficiency with process representations. 

The candidate will be part of a postgraduate research cohort with on-going parallel PhD studies across the Anglia region.  Computational skills including experience with hydro(geo)logical modelling and programming languages (Python, R, etc.) are expected.


EPSRC, Anglian Water & Essex & Suffolk Water (part of Northumbrian Water Ltd)

Name of supervisor(s)

Dr Geoff Darch (Anglian Water), Dr Jeremy Dearlove (Northumbrian Water), Dr Brian Thomas & Dr Geoff Parkin (Newcastle University)

Eligibility Criteria

First or 2:1 Degree, and preferably an MSc in a relevant quantitative subject.

The award is available to home and international applicants (including EU). WIRe CDT have a limited number of international awards available.

We are an inclusive and diverse doctoral centre and welcome applications from all highly motivated individuals, regardless of background, identity or disability.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this please ‘Create a new account’.

All relevant fields should be completed, but fields marked with a red asterisk must be completed. The following information will help us to process your application. You will need to:

  • insert the programme code 8209F in the programme of study section
  • select ‘PhD Civil Engineering (Water Infrastructure & Resilience)’ as the programme of study
  • insert the studentship code WIRE213 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code WIRE213 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  • attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.
  • Please send your covering letter and CV to [email protected]


[email protected] (Academic Supervisor) or [email protected] (Administrator)