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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Aeolian sediment transport and surface moisture interactions

Published: 1 March 2011

Fully funded NERC studentship

Supervisor: Dr. Joanna Nield

Aeolian sediment transport and dune development in beach environments is influenced by mutual feedback between surface properties and sediment transport. Surface moisture is particularly influential, and is generally considered in aeolian environments for its ability to increase the critical shear velocity required to entrain sediment on a beach. Yet it is heterogeneous in nature and this can greatly influence the ability of a system to actively transfer sediment through the migration of sand strips and formation of protodunes. This in turn can lead to large errors in the estimation of meso-scale sediment input to coastal dune systems, which is of particular importance when attempting to manage coastal systems. Furthermore, understanding the link between sediment transport spatial patterns in environments where rain events provide a surface moisture source, will elucidate aspects of protodune initiation in continental areas (e.g. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado, USA).
This studentship will explore the complex relationships between surface properties and sedimentation through (1) field experiments, including the collection of collocated high resolution datasets using terrestrial laser scanning, and (2) the development of computer simulation models that incorporate key processes and feedback. This study aims to highlight the importance of considering geomorphic feedback when assessing the influence of surface moisture in aeolian process dominated systems.

The closing date for applications is 1 April 2011.

Eligibility for this studentship is governed by the NERC – please see their website to check your eligibility BEFORE making an application:

For information on how to apply, follow these links  or contact Julie Drewitt, Graduate School Administrator on if you have any further queries.

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