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PhD Studentship: Computational Modelling and Risk Assessment of the Heavy Rainfall Impacts on Transport Infrastructure

University of Birmingham - School of Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: A tax-free stipend for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK rate.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 15th August 2022
Closes: 13th November 2022

Department: School of Engineering, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences

Mitigating and adapting to climate change has become one of the most important societal challenges today. We are seeing increasingly more extreme weather such as heavy rainfall events in the globe including the UK. Such events may cause hazards such as flooding, landslides, debris and failure of earthworks and structures. They cause significant damage and disruptions to our infrastructure. For Network Rail alone, the annual loss is estimated to be 100 million pounds.

Modelling the risk from these rainfall-related hazards is essential for increasing resilience. It underpins important applications that reduces risk or enables faster recovery. Current practice evaluates the main hazards posed by intense rainfall in segmented approaches using, for example, flood, mass movement or slope failure models. However, using separate segmented approaches may underestimate the combined risks of multiple, interacting hazards induced by an intense rainfall event.

Therefore, this project will integrate these different types of models to develop a multi-hazard risk assessment framework. This project aims to deliver tools that can be used to evaluate risk exposure of transport infrastructure using possible future scenarios that reflect Climate Change.

The project will couple numerical models of different types and scales, including our in-house model hipims, to simulate multiple hazards such as flood inundation, failure of earthwork, and debris flow. It will establish the relationship between the hazard information (such as depth and velocity of flood and debris flow and extent of earthwork failure) and risk metrics such as financial losses. The project will also explore how the new tools can be applied to facilitate climate adaptation measures. 

The project will be supervised by Dr Xilin Xia, Prof Andrew Quinn, and Dr Emma Ferranti. The supervisory team will equip the candidate with an inter-disciplinary knowledgebase and skillset required for this project. Training will be provided in skills relating to process-based numerical modelling, data management, statistical analysis, and stakeholder engagement.

We are seeking an enthusiastic and highly student with good interpersonal skills and a keen interest in research. The applicant must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honors degree or a distinction or high merit at MSc level (or international equivalent) in civil engineering, physical geography, environmental or earth sciences, mathematics, or a related subject. Preference will be given to candidates with relevant research experience. Experience in general coding/programming is essential.

The studentship is for 3.5 years and is intended to start as early October 2022. However, a later start date can also be considered. The studentship provides a tax-free stipend for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK rate. International applicants from outside the UK will need to secure additional funding to cover the difference between international and UK fees.

Xilin Xia

Email: x.xia.1@bham.ac.uk

Telephone: +441214144297

Funding Details: Directly funded PhD project (UK students only)

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