PhD position “Models for living dike dynamics and tools for designing living dikes”

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: 27 Nov 2021

One of the urgent challenges of our time is to prepare for the inevitable effects of global climate change. In densely populated deltas around the globe, hard structures such as dikes covered with asphalt are commonly used as coastal protection measure. Such structures are static and will not withstand the rising sea levels and increased storminess. In the Netherlands alone, it would cost billions of Euros to heighten these dikes in the coming years. Instead, soft solutions - coastal wetlands - could be placed in front of the dikes and the asphalt could be replaced with grass. Such systems are climate-adaptive as they capture sediments and grow with rising sea level and resilient as they buffer coast against storms by reducing wave-loading. Within the NWO funded research project "Living Dikes", we aim to develop the know-how and the design tools for realizing living dikes.

In this PhD project, which is embedded in Living Dikes, you will develop models for living dike dynamics and tools to design living dikes. Coastal ecosystems react in a non-linear way to changing boundary conditions, often resulting in unwanted transitions, called tipping points. Model studies have revealed that living dike systems seem to be particularly sensitive to such transitions, because they are the result of a very delicate balance between sedimentation rates and erosion rates, which is governed by hydrodynamic forces and habitat-modifying species. Using idealized and detailed numerical models, you will study the interaction between the dominant ecological, morphological and hydraulic processes in the long-term, identify the role of extremes and uncertainties on the long term biogeomorphological evolution and focus on the dike cover strength against wave impact during storms. Finally, the aim is to develop design tools for resilient living dikes under climate change scenarios. You will present your results at (international) conferences, interact with users and write your findings in journal papers and a PhD thesis.

The Living Dikes project is a collaboration between the Marine and Fluvial Systems (MFS) group at the Department of Civil Engineering of the Faculty of Engineering Technology, the Faculty of Technology, Policy & Management at TU Delft, the Faculty of Civil Engineering at TU Delft, and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ). In this PhD-project you will be supervised by a team from the University of Twente, with close collaboration with the involved partners.

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