BENNETT_UENV18NEX - Rock and Roll: Passive and automated sensing of fluvial sediment and wood transport
Rock and Roll: Passive and automated sensing of fluvial sediment and wood transport
Fluvial bedload is a fundamental process by which coarse sediment is transferred through landscapes by fluvial action. Large wood is a major component of many rivers, but its influence on bedload transport is poorly understood. Rivers across the western USA are currently experiencing increased wood loading due to infestation of forests by the mountain pine beetle over the past decade. This project will investigate the impact of increased wood loading on bedload sediment transport dynamics in a stream within an infected forest.
The project will apply passive radio tracer technology in which individual grains/wood pieces are tagged with Passive Integrative Transponders (PIT) to track bedload and wood transport. Studies using this technology have shown that bed- particles move like a random walk model with intermittent periods of movement followed by long periods of rest (Bradley and Tucker, 2012). The project will acquire data on the impact of wood on bed-particle rest intervals and travel distances for the first time. Secondly, the project will apply and develop unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to quantify changes in wood loading to the stream and channel geomorphology. It particular, it will develop technology to aid the use of UAVs in forested environments with tight flying corridors.
The student will be part of a large scale PIT tracer experiment of bedload sediment transport in St Louis Creek, an alpine stream in Fraser Experimental Forest (FEF), Colorado, USA. In August 2016, G. Bennett and S. Ryan seeded 1000 PIT tagged rocks in the stream. An initial survey one year later found 90% of the rocks, with 30% of these showing movement from their initial seed location to up to 100 m along the river bed. The student will update and analyze a growing database of sediment transport and wood recruitment - from the seeded site and other subwatersheds at FEF (e.g., Ryan et al. 2015). The student will compare data acquired on sediment transport with flow data in order to establish hydrologic controls on sediment transport. Furthermore, they will use an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to assess changes in wood loading to the stream, channel geomorphology and structural controls on particle movement. The student will work with Gerard Parr and colleagues in Computer Sciences at UEA to develop UAV anti-collision technology for flying through forested catchments (e.g. Luo et al., 2013).
The NEXUSS CDT provides state-of-the-art, highly experiential training in the application and development of cutting-edge Smart and Autonomous Observing Systems for the environmental sciences, alongside comprehensive personal and professional development. There will be extensive opportunities for students to expand their multi-disciplinary outlook through interactions with a wide network of academic, research and industrial / government / policy partners. The student will be registered and hosted at University of East Anglia (School of Environmental Sciences). The student will have the opportunity of spend some time at the US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Station in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA and will spend 3 weeks each summer at the newly refurbished Fraser Experimental Forest facility affording interaction with scientists conducting a range of experiments within the forest. Specific training will include training in surveying, hydrological measurements, PIT tag technology, UAV in-flight technology and Structure from Motion (SfM) to process UAV-acquired imagery.
This project has been shortlisted for funding by the NEXUSS Centre for Doctoral Training. Undertaking a PhD with the NEXUSS CDT will involve attendance at mandatory training events throughout the course of the PhD.
Selected candidates who meet RCUK’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC/EPSRC studentship - in 2017/18, the stipend is £14,553.
In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a stipend. For non-UK EU-resident applicants NERC/EPSRC funding can be used to cover tuition fees, RTSG and training costs, but not any part of the stipend. Individual institutes may, however, elect to provide a stipend from their own resources.
This PhD studentship is expected to begin in September/October 2018. Both full-time and part-time study are possible (those planning to study part-time may wish to discuss this with the supervisor before applying).
Bradley, D.E., and Tucker, G.E., 2012. Measuring gravel transport and dispersion in a mountain river using passive radio tracers. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, DOI: 10.1002/esp.3223
Ryan, S.E., Bishop, E.L., and Daniels, J.M. 2014. Influence of large wood on channel morphology and sediment storage in headwater mountain streams, Fraser Experimental Forest, Colorado. Geomorphology 217:73-88. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.03.046
C. Luo, S. I. McClean, G. Parr, L. Teacy and R. De Nardi, "UAV Position Estimation and Collision Avoidance Using the Extended Kalman Filter," in IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology, vol. 62, no. 6, pp. 2749-2762, July 2013.
1. Dr Sandra Ryan, U.S. Forest Service, Colorado, USA
2. Prof Gerard Parr, UEA
3. Prof David Sear, University of Southampton
- Start date October 2018
- Studentship Length 3 years 8 months
- Acceptable First Degree Earth or Environmental Sciences discipline, Engineering, Geology, or Geophysics
- Minimum Entry Standard 2:1 or equivalent