PhD Studentship - A Big Data Approach to Forecasting Global Hydrological Extremes

Loughborough University

Application details:
Reference number: CENTA17-LU1
Start date: October 1st 2018
Closing date: January 22nd 2018
Interview date: Week beginning February 12th 2018

Primary supervisor: Dr Louise Slater
Secondary supervisor: Prof Robert Wilby

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014).

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Graduate School, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career.

Find out more:

Project Detail:
Industry-standard streamflow forecasts use state-of-the art weather forecasts to drive hydrological models and predict hydrological extremes (floods and droughts) weeks to months before they occur. However, these traditional approaches are often computationally demanding and have limited skill, which hinders their uptake by end users. Now, with the advent of advanced statistical forecasting techniques alongside a range of Big Data sources (such as Earth Observation from satellite archives), it is possible to start exploring ‘intelligent’ approaches to forecast hydrological extremes. This project will evaluate the viability of skilful long-range statistical forecasting based on a range of Global Big Data sources, including climate forecasts, teleconnection indices, and Earth Observation data, and compared with that of industry-standard forecasts. 

This research will require a degree of quantitative expertise, strong analytical skills, understanding of time series analysis, and the ability to code in R or Python. The student will acquire state-of-the-art skills and knowledge of forecasting methodologies, data science and ‘Big Data’ analysis techniques. Fieldwork will include a secondment for the PhD student within the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), working alongside other streamflow forecasters.

The proposed approach opens the way for more computationally efficient flood and drought forecasting and is of practical interest to a broad range of end users and practitioners. The student will contribute to the dissemination and operationalisation of these new tools via presentations at national and international conferences, and via discussions with end-users and practitioners.

Find out more: For further information on this project, please see the main CENTA website (

Entry requirements:
Applicants will normally need to hold, or expect to gain, at least a 2:1 degree (or equivalent) in Geography, Earth Science or Environmental Science. A Master’s degree and/or experience in a related area associated with the research will be an advantage.

Funding information:
The studentship is for 3.5 years and is intended to start in October 2018. The studentship provides a tax free stipend of £14,553 per annum (in 2017/18) for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate (£4,195 in 2017/18) and a research training support grant of £8,000. Please note that due to restrictions imposed by the funder only students with a UK/EU fee status will be considered for this position. Further guidance about eligibility is available at RCUK Terms & Conditions.

Contact details:
Name: Dr Louise Slater
Email address:
Telephone number: 01509 223374

How to apply:
To apply:

Please quote CENTA17-LU1 when completing your online application.

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Midlands of England