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Development of decision support tools for adaptation of critical coastal industrial infrastructure to rising sea levels

This exciting research project is focused on the UK’s many coastal industrial assets which may come under significant threat in the next 50 to 100 years and beyond due to rising sea levels. The aim of this study is to develop tools for use by industrial asset owners, national and local government policy makers, that aid the decision process regarding a. when, and for how long, to defend and/or to adapt an asset to keep it reliably functioning; or b. when to relocate the asset.

Applicants will be required to demonstrate their ability to take initiative in research planning, do independent original research, learn new or develop existing programming skills, present findings in national/international conferences, and draft research papers for publication in peer‐reviewed journals. Applicants will have or be expected to receive a first or upper-second class honours degree in an Engineering, Computer Science, Design, Mathematics, Physics, Geography or a similar discipline.

A Postgraduate Masters degree is not required but may be an advantage. Experience in structural engineering design, coastal processes, climate change adaptation, flood hazard and risk analysis, geospatial data processing, numerical modelling, and/or computer programming is an advantage. You should be highly motivated, able to work independently as well as in a team, collaborate with others and have good communication skills.


  • IMechE (2019). Rising Seas: The Engineering Challenge. London: Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) 
  • Nicholls, R. J., & Kebede, A. S. (2010). R 6.1: The Implications on the UK of the Impacts of Climate Change and Sea-level Rise on Critical Coastal Infrastructure Overseas, 2010 to 2100. PLoS ONE.
  • Siegert, M., Alley, R. B., Rignot, E., Englander, J., & Corell, R. (2020). Twenty-first century sea-level rise could exceed IPCC projections for strong-warming futures. One Earth, 691-703.

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)

Carola Koenig - Carola König is Vice Dean International and a Senior Lecturer in the College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences at Brunel University London. Following her degree in Mechanical Engineering (Dipl-Ing) from the University of Stuttgart, Germany in 1992 and a short period in the automotive industry she obtained a PhD from Brunel in 1998. Her expertise is in Fluid Mechanics, including CFD, within a variety of multi-disciplinary environments which comprise biomedical and bioprocess engineering as well as thermofluids engineering. Prior to her international role she was Course Director of Brunel’s Flood and Coastal Engineering programmes, a programme suite of both, undergraduate and postgraduate courses sponsored by the Environment Agency and co-delivered with HR Wallingford, a renowned, independent civil engineering and environmental hydraulics organisation. In conjunction to that role, her research has widened to include also adaptation to climate change, such as flooding, sea level rise and health. She is a Charted Engineer and Member of the IMechE where she is the immediate past Chair of the Thermofluids Group and a member of its Climate Change Adaptation Working Group. She is also a Fellow of the Institute of the Higher Education Academy and has a keen interest in education management.

Abiy Kebede - Dr Kebede is a Lecturer in Flood and Coastal Engineering within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences at Brunel University London. He is also a key member of the Centre for Flood Risk and Resilience (CFR2). Prior to joining Brunel, Abiy worked as a Researcher at the University of Southampton, where he also did his PhD and MSc studies. His current research interests span from understanding the food-water-land-ecosystems nexus interactions and implications for sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to assessing the potential impacts of climate change, sea-level rise and climate extremes and risks of flooding, and quantifying the costs and benefits of engineering and nature-based solutions to climate change challenges at different spatial (from local to global) and temporal (from short- to long-term) scales for informing robust adaptation policies. His work explores the following key research questions:
  • What are the physical, socio-economic and environmental impacts of climate change, sea-level rise and climate extremes in coastal areas and deltas?
  • What are the implications of historic coastal landfills on shoreline management planning?
  • What are the direct and indirect impacts and key uncertainties of future changes in climate and socio-economic conditions?
  • How can we devise robust adaptation policies across multiple sectors, scales, and scenarios?