QUADRAT DTP: The impacts of climate change and extreme weather events on cyanobacteria blooms in lakes
Applications are now CLOSED
There has been an increased awareness in recent years of the problems associated with harmful cyanobacteria algal blooms (cyanoHABs) in freshwater systems. These can have devastating effects on aquatic biota, fisheries and human health via the contamination of drinking water supplies. The exact causes of cyanobacteria blooms are still not well understood, although nutrient enrichment driven by anthropogenic processes (e.g. agricultural intensification) and climate change are two major factors that can drive their proliferation (Benayache et al., 2019). As well as promoting algal growth via temperature change, climate change can affect rainfall patterns, leading to alternating periods of drought and intense storms. The latter can cause increased runoff of nutrients into waterbodies, leading to cyanoHAB formation. Re-suspension of surficial, nutrient-rich sediments during storms can have a similar effect, particularly in shallow lakes. There is a pressing need to better understand these and other controls on cyanoHAB formation in the light of future predicted climate change and increased storm intensity, and to consider how the combined effects of climatic stressors and nutrients will impact biotic communities in lakes and other sensitive water bodies.
This project will use a combination of palaeolimnological (geochemistry, pigments, microfossils) and instrumental water quality and climate data to examine the impacts of recent (last ca. 300 yr) climate change and extreme weather events on cyanoHAB development in two study regions: New Brunswick in eastern Canada and western Ireland, where cyanobacteria blooms are having a detrimental effect. Palaeolimnological approaches, which utilise the rich archive of environmental information preserved in sediment cores, have great potential for understanding the character and causes of harmful cyanobacteria blooms in lakes, and can greatly extend the inferences that can be drawn from water quality monitoring data alone. Sediment cores (<1m) will be collected from lakes with a known history of water-quality change and cynaoHAB proliferation following documented storms. The palaeolimnological work will be supplemented by statistical and GIS analysis of contemporary water quality monitoring data and select climate and landscape limnological variables in the study catchments (e.g. water depth, lake connectivity, fetch, ice-free season) to further elucidate the controls on cyanoHAB development.
TRAINING: The successful applicant will receive training in relevant analytical techniques (including diatoms and other microalgae, fossil pigments, geochemistry, stable isotopes), field sampling and statistical approaches from the supervisory team in QUB and Aberdeen. The student will undertake a 3-4 month internship at the Global Water Institute, Carleton University, Ottawa where he/she will receive training in high-resolution core sampling and novel geochemical techniques (cyanotoxin metabolite detection in sediment) under the guidance of external project advisors Tim Patterson and David McMullin. The student will join a diverse and vibrant research community in QUB. Logistical support with fieldwork will be provided by the supervisors and external advisory team. Prospective applicants should have a strong grounding in biological or environmental science, physical geography or a related subject at undergraduate and/or Masters level.
REFERENCE: Benayache et al. (2019) An Overview of Cyanobacteria Harmful Algal Bloom (CyanoHAB) Issues in Freshwater Ecosystems. In: Limnology-Some New Aspects of Inland Water Ecology. DOI:10.5772/intechopen.84155.
This project is in competition for funding.
This project is funded by the NERC QUADRAT-DTP and is available to UK/EU nationals who meet the UKRI eligibility criteria. Please visit www.quadrat.ac.uk for more information.
The studentship provides funding for tuition fees, stipend and a research training and support grant subject to eligibility.
The research undertaken within Geography falls under two interdisciplinary Research Clusters; Environmental Change & Resilience (ECR) and Culture & Society (C&S).
Physical Geography-related projects focus on themes such as long-term landscape and environmental change, resilience of ecosystems, environmental change impacts on heritage structures, and analysis of contaminated lands. Investigative approaches include a range of geo-spatial technologies such as remote sensing, Geographical Information Systems (GIS), big data analysis and spatial and temporal modelling. Much of our research spans several disciplines, for example projects on the hydrogeology and restoration of bogs, climate change implications for resilience and stability of soil, geoforensics and coastal geomorphology. Funding opportunities to pursue these lines of research are available, including the doctoral training partnership, QUADRAT. Further details are available here: www.quadrat.ac.uk
The C&S cluster focuses on a number of themes, both historical and contemporary, which consider the relationships between human society, spatiality and culture. Two doctoral training partnerships provide relevant funding opportunities for research in these areas: NINE-DTP www.ninedtp.ac.uk and Northern Bridge Consortium www.northernbridge.ac.uk Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to make contact with potential supervisors during the autumn semester.
The four main research themes are:
The Geographies of Knowledge:
Research is focused on the geographies of knowledge, with particular emphasis on the cultures of science. The cluster has expertise on the relationships between science, race and religion since 1650; the historical geographies of scientific knowledge; the cultures of botanic gardens in the age of empire; the reception of Darwinism; the role of climate in debates about human cultures; the geopolitics of apocalyptic thought, and the ways in which cultures of science, technology and outer space are connected to questions of place, landscape and identity in the twentieth century.
Landscapes, Critical Cartography and GIS:
Research consists of quantitative spatial analyses of socio-economic data and qualitative cultural analyses of landscapes and cartographic knowledge from the medieval to the modern period. Critical cartographic/GIS techniques have been deployed to interrogate the veracity of the knowledge universe of the map, while digitally-translated documentary data have been used to re-configure our understanding of medieval urbanism and agrarian economies, as well as the spatial dynamics of religion and the politics of cartographic rhetoric.
Research is focused on nationalism and regional conflict; critical geopolitics of religion; monumental landscapes and the politics of memory; international relations in a globalised world; colonial and postcolonial geographies of India; the processes of border making, geographies of embodiment and the securitisation of public spaces. This work has been carried out from both historical and contemporary perspectives.
The Population Dynamics of Contemporary Societies:
Research is focused on the population dynamics of contemporary societies and includes census analysis; research on travel to work; employability and labour markets; as well as social and religious segregation particularly in divided cities such as Belfast; the study of borders and external migration.
Mode of study / duration
Registration is on a full-time or part-time basis, under the direction of a supervisory team appointed by the University. You will be expected to submit your thesis at the end of three years of full-time registration for PhD (or part-time equivalent).
Both research clusters attract funding from a range of sources including; NERC, EPSRC, ESRC; AHRC, British Academy, Leverhulme Trust, and JISC. The clusters have developed an international reputation in the themes identified in the overview as demonstrated by an impressive record of scholarly monographs and publishing agenda-setting articles that have informed and influenced research directions within the wider discipline of Geography. The cluster's research themes are carried out over a wide range of different geographical contexts and from the Medieval period to the present. Current research is focused on the UK, Ireland, Israel/Palestine, the Balkans, USA, Canada, Burma and India.
Strong connections exist with cognate disciplines in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and with the School of Biological Sciences. Several staff are involved in cross-faculty supervision of a number of PhD projects.
The cluster's research themes are carried out over a wide range of different geographical contexts and from the Medieval period to the present. Current research is focused on the UK, Ireland, Korea, Italy, Israel/Palestine, the Balkans, USA, Canada, Burma, and India.
Strong connections with cognate disciplines in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and is involved in cross-faculty supervision of a number of PhD projects.
For further information on career opportunities at PhD level please contact the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences Student Recruitment Team on askEPS@qub.ac.uk. Our advisors - in consultation with the School - will be happy to provide further information on your research area, possible career prospects and your research application.
People teaching you
The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School.
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.
English Language Requirements
Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required (*taken within the last 2 years).
International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.
For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see: www.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs.
If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
|Northern Ireland (NI)||£4,407|
|England, Scotland or Wales (GB)||£4,407|
|Other (non-UK) EU||£4,407|
There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.
Additional course costs
Depending on the programme of study, there may also be other extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies . Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £100 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges. Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen. There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, and library fines. In undertaking a research project students may incur costs associated with transport and/or materials, and there will also be additional costs for printing and binding the thesis. There may also be individually tailored research project expenses and students should consult directly with the School for further information.
How do I fund my study?1.PhD Opportunities
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