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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

EPSRC four year fully funded studentship

Published: 24 March 2011

Non-linear analysis of lake sedimentary records to understand complex climate: hydrological behaviour David Sear and John Dearing (Geography) Jason Noble (Institute of Complex Systems Simulation)

Recent high magnitude flood events in the UK and elsewhere have highlighted the important role that extreme events play in aquatic ecosystems; insurance markets and communities. Correspondingly, there is considerable interest in better understanding the frequency and magnitude of extreme flood events. This goal is currently hindered by the relatively short instrumental records available. This is a problem because short (<100year) hydrological records often fail to include the full range of flood extremes and underestimate the frequency of such events. Moreover, short records do not enable flood analysis to be undertaken across the strongly non-stationary record of changes in climate and land use. The latter is significant for improving the modelling of extreme events.

Lakes as sedimentary basins, provide the potential to record the full sequence of flood events. Improvements in the resolution and quantitative analysis of lake sediment cores is providing evidence for the identification of individual floods. However, these records are so far only capable of reporting event frequency. Methods are required to determine event magnitude from the sedimentary record. Event magnitude signals in lake sediments are likely to be non-linear as a result of the range of complex linkages that create fluctuations in sediment deposition. These include, variability in sediment supply for a given event; changes (over longer timescales) in sediment-lake connectivity; modifications to lake bathymetry as well event magnitude.

The studentship will focus on three key areas:

1) establishing a high resolution record of flood event characteristics from lake sediment cores;

2) developing approaches for the interpretation of event magnitude and frequency from lake sediment cores and

3) applying numerical analysis and modelling to the lake sediment core data in order to understand the response of catchment flood hydrology to changes in climate and catchment management.

Applications are invited from strongly numerate students with upper second or first class degrees in a suitable field including Geophysics, Mathematics, Earth Science, Civil Engineering and Physical Geography for a four year fully funded Complexity studentship funded by EPSRC and the university. The first taught year is held at the DTC in Complex Systems Simulation and covers physical, mathematical and programming aspects of complexity science and related analytical tools.

Informal enquiries to David Sear ( or John Dearing ( More details of the DTC can be found at On-line applications forms can be found at or from the Postgraduate Research Administrator ( / ++44 (0)2380592216) .

This is an open application. The first candidate whose application and performance at interview meets the required standards will be considered for the appointment.

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