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Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland


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Swash zone sediment transport on mixed sand-gravel beaches – Aberdeen University

Closing: 8/3/2024

Beach and barrier systems with a substantial gravel fraction, referred to as ‘gravel barriers’, represent up to 20% of the wave-exposed coastline of Great Britain. Gravel barriers provide vital natural protection against coastal flooding and erosion and support unique ecosystems. The swash zone is the cross-shore region of beaches and barriers that is quasi-periodically covered and uncovered by water as waves meet the shoreline. Hydrodynamic and sediment dynamic processes within the swash zone determine run-up, over-topping, and erosion or accretion of the beach. Much of our present understanding of swash zone hydrodynamics and sediment transport processes comes from laboratory or numerical studies involving pure sand or gravel beaches. However, most gravel barriers comprise various mixtures of sand and gravel for which the hydrodynamic and sediment transport processes are more complex and poorly understood.

The PhD research project aims to improve understanding and prediction of swash zone hydrodynamic and sediment transport processes on mixed sand-gravel barriers. The research will involve experiments carried out in the 20m long dam-break swash facility in the University’s Fluid Mechanics Laboratory, which is equipped with state-of-the-art optical and acoustic measurement instrumentation to support the research.  The research will focus on fundamental processes in mixed sand-gravel barriers, including sediment entrainment, advection and deposition,  hiding and exposure processes and hydrodynamic swash-swash interactions and interactions between swash and the sub-surface flow.

This fully funded 3.5-year PhD position is associated with the ‘Gravel barrier resilience in a changing climate’ project (#gravelbeach) awarded by NERC. #gravelbeach is a multi-institution project aimed at improving our understanding of gravel barrier resilience to future climate change scenarios. The new knowledge and data generated in this PhD will be used by #gravelbeach partners to develop numerical models and management tools for use in coastal engineering practice.

Full funding is available for UK and international students for the 3.5 years of PhD study. The funding covers tuition fees and a maintenance stipend of approximately £19k per year. Paid tutorial/demonstrating work can supplement the stipend.

Enquiries: Dr Dominic van der A ([email protected]) or Professor Dubravka Pokrajac ([email protected]), School of Engineering, University of Aberdeen.

More details and to apply

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