NERC GW4+ DTP PhD studentship: Improved understanding of hazards along the Jurassic Coast from remote-sensing measurements of erosion

University of Exeter - College of Life and Environmental Science

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the NERC Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Partnership (GW4+ DTP). At least 4 fully-funded studentships that encompass the breadth of earth and environmental sciences are being offered to start in September 2017 at Exeter. The studentships will provide funding for a stipend which is currently £14,296 per annum for 2016-2017, research costs and UK/EU tuition fees at Research Council UK rates for 42 months (3.5 years) for full-time students, pro rata for part-time students.

Main supervisor: Dr Steven Palmer (Geography, Streatham Campus)

Erosion of the UK coastline presents major management issues given high coastal population densities, the high value of coastal land and its intensity and diversity of use. Transport interruptions (such as the washed out railway at Dawlish in early 2014), damage to coastal properties, beach erosion and widespread cliff falls represent hazards to local communities and beach/coastal path users. In addition, flooding related to storm surges poses a hazard to both coastal and inland communities, and the frequency and magnitude of these events is expected to evolve in response to a changing climate and sea level rise.

This project will investigate the fastest eroding sections of coast in the southern UK, focussing on the Jurassic Coast in East Devon and Dorset - a UNESCO world heritage site of global importance. Meta-analyses of erosion records from e.g. newspaper archives and GIS analyses of historical maps with be combined with new data acquired from airborne LiDAR, Terrestrial laser scanners (TLS) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), to quantify the spatial-temporal variability of the rates of coastal erosion and deposition over the past century.

The 20th Century climate reanalysis (Compo et al., 2011) and tide gauge records will be used to characterise the prevailing environmental conditions during periods of enhanced erosion and explore connections to historical storm surge events. Internal factors including aspect, slope and local geology will also be investigated as drivers of spatial variability in erosion. By considering both intrinsic and external forcing’s, we aim to improve understanding of the mechanisms and processes responsible for coastal landslides and other types of coastal erosion.

In collaboration with the Met Office, UK Coastal Climate Projections (Lowe et al., 2009; updated report expected in 2018) will be used to investigate likely changes in the prevailing environmental conditions. These projections will be combined with the improved understanding of erosion processes to indicate potential changes to erosion rates along the Jurassic Coast.

Throughout the project and in collaboration with the Jurassic Coast Trust, the candidate will develop innovative, interactive visualisations intended to engage with coastal users and the wider public, in order to communicate coastal changes and their associated risks. This immersive content is expected to range from web-based 3D virtual environments to smart-phone accessible augmented reality.

Please see for full details and how to apply.

Share this PhD
  Share by Email   Print this job   More sharing options
We value your feedback on the quality of our adverts. If you have a comment to make about the overall quality of this advert, or its categorisation then please send us your feedback
Advert information

Type / Role:



South West England