PhD Studentship: Drivers of spatio-temporal variability in Urban Heat Island at the global scale and implications for growing cities (LE QUERE_UENV17EE) - CASE studentship with BuroHappold Engineering Consultancy

University of East Anglia - School of Environmental Sciences

Start Date: October 2017

Supervisor: Prof Corinne Le Quéré

Project description:  

It is well known that cities are warmer than their surrounding environment. This so called ‘Urban Heat Island (UHI)’ is caused by changes in the way heat is exchanged in the build environment. Published studies show that the UHI grows initially as cities develop, but it tends to saturate when urbanization reaches a certain level of maturity. However, because of the lack of a global synthesis of UHI characteristics, we do not know what controls the rate and level of warming in UHIs. Therefore it is hard to recommend if and how the UHI could be minimized in growing cities.      

Here we propose to fill this gap. The PhD candidate will first make a systematic assessment of the warming caused by the UHI based on all existing data. With this new data synthesis, the candidate will attempt to determine the relationship between the characteristics of the UHI (i.e. its level, change, extremes, and night/day properties), and

(1) The stage of urbanization of a city,

(2) Environmental variables such as mean temperature, humidity, prevalent wind direction, distance from coast, elevation, and

(3) The type of city and its urban design (e.g., trees, water bodies, building height).

The project will also explore the implications of projected UHI effects this century for heat-related health burden, and if possible propose solutions to minimise it by working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international organisms.

This project is a collaboration with BuroHappold engineering consultancy. The candidate will spend at least three months at BuroHappold to see how this consultancy works and interacts with their clients. The successful candidate will be trained to develop and use large datasets (what to include, how to quality-control, use of statistics, handling of uncertainty), and in the use of satellite data and models.

Person specification:  This project is particularly suitable for candidates with first degrees in any sciences and an interest in the environment and climate change (including physics, mathematics, engineering, computer sciences, and earth and environmental sciences). The candidate will work across the Tyndall Centre and Climatic Research Unit at UEA and interact with an international experts and policymakers.

Funding notes: This project has been shortlisted for funding by the EnvEast NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, comprising the Universities of East Anglia, Essex and Kent, with twenty other research partners.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 14/15 February 2017.

Successful candidates who meet RCUK’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship. In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a full award. In 2016/17, the stipend was £14,296.

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