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Analysis of the effect of Natural Flood Management measures in water levels

Experimental and numerical analysis of the effect of Natural Flood Management measures in water levels and validation for 2D/3D applicability.

Natural Flood Management (NFM) has become a popular method of reducing flood risk. It involves the implementation of measures that reflect natural processes and provides a range of benefits in addition to flood reduction. There is however little evidence that the measures actually reduce flood risk. NFM is introduced in channels to slow down high flows and encourage temporary storage on the floodplain.

While these solutions have been implemented widely, there is still resistance to their use at the scales required to impact significantly on flood risk, at least partially due to an evidence gap. There is no standard method for representing some of them, i.e. leaky barriers, in hydraulic models.

This study proposes to analyse a methodology for using commercial hydraulic models which capture the hydraulics of natural flood management measures accurately, allowing key questions about their combined behaviour in catchments to be answered. Commercial models (2D or 3D) will be tested against data from the literature and new steady-state data, and then run predictively on transient cases. The method will help to answer key questions about the optimal leakiness of small-scale interventions and the limits to their usefulness.



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  • Dixon, S.J. Sear, D.A. Odoni, N.A. Sykes, T. Lane, S.N. 2016. The effects of river restoration on catchment scale flood risk and flood hydrology. Earth Surf Proc Land 41(7):997–1008 Environment Agency.
  • 2018. Working with Natural Processes. Defra Report: SC150005. JBA Consulting. 2005. Natural Flood Storage and Extreme Flood Events
  • Edinburgh: Scottish Executive Moreta et al, 2020. Numerical analysis of river flood defences. River Flow 2020 International Conference.
  • Martin-Moreta, P.J., Lopez-Querol, S. (2017) Numerical Modeling in Flood Risk Assessment: UK Case Study. Civil Eng. Res. Journal 2017; 3(1)
  • Pitt, M., 2008. The Pitt Review, Learning lessons from the 2007 floods: An independent review. London: Cabinet Office.
  • Thomas, H. and Nisbet, T.R., 2007. An assessment of the impact of floodplain woodland on flood flows. Water and Environment Journal, 21(2), pp.114-126.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.

Meet the Supervisor(s)

Pedro Martin-Moreta - Pedro (CEng, PhD, MEng) is a Lecturer in Flood and Coastal Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Brunel University London. He has 15 years of experience in flood risk, flood modelling and river engineering, both as a consultant and researcher. His principal research interests are flood hydraulics, flood defences and numerical modelling in rivers.