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School of Geography

Testing the effectiveness of land use management as a natural flood management technique

Funded* Masters by Research studentship in collaboration with Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust and Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council.
*fees & fieldwork travel only

Start date: 1 October 2018
Closing date for applications: 23 July 2018 

The 2015 Boxing Day floods impacted large areas of Yorkshire, leading to increased interest and investment in flood risk management to prevent future flood impacts.  In addition to the use of traditional hard engineering techniques to protect communities, recent projects including the £50M Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme and £35M Calderdale Flood Alleviation Scheme have focused on limiting future impacts of floods by working with natural processes and implementing measures that help to protect, restore and emulate the natural functions of catchments, floodplains and rivers.

Natural Flood Management (NFM) refers to the restoration and use of natural features such as the installation of instream wood dams and reconnection of floodplains to reduce flood risk.  Increasingly, changes in the way that land is managed so that soil can absorb more water are being adopted as a form of NFM to reduce flood risk in upland areas. However, there is currently little information to show how soil properties change as a result of NFM interventions including tree planting, riparian buffer strips and reductions in grazing or how these changes can be modelled to assess the effectiveness of land management as a form of NFM.  This project will collect soil data from a number of locations in the Yorkshire Dales and Pennines and undertake field and laboratory analysis to characterise soil properties such as hydraulic conductivity, depth of subsurface flow and surface roughness in different land uses and management regimes.  This information will be used to help improve rainfall-runoff models used to test the effectiveness of NFM schemes throughout Yorkshire. Depending on the student’s interest, some hydrological modelling of NFM interventions is possible, and the student will be encouraged to publish their results in a peer reviewed journal.

The project is in collaboration with the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust and Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council, which will provide the student with excellent networking opportunities with a variety of stakeholders in addition to the payment of the successful candidate’s tuition fees (UK/EU only) and travel costs associated with field work. 

Eligibility and how to apply

Applications are welcome from those eligible for the UK/EU fee rate with a good undergraduate degree (high 2i or first class or equivalent) in Geography or a related discipline. The successful candidate is expected to begin the project on 1 October 2018 and must have a valid UK/EU driving licence.  To apply, please submit the online application form for research degree study and the supporting documents listed here by 23 July 2018.

For project related enquiries, please contact Megan Klaar (m.j.klaar(at)leeds.ac.uk)