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Dynamics of seawater intrusion in heterogeneous coastal aquifers

Saltwater intrusion (SWI) in coastal aquifers is one of the main challenges for water resources management. It is a natural process that happens because of the density difference between the denser saltwater and the lighter freshwater. Factors such as rising in seawater level or decrease in the groundwater flux towards the sea would promote further intrusion. Also, excessive pumping of freshwater to supply the demand of coastal cities can lead to increased intrusion lengths, potentially rendering the supplies unusable if not managed effectively.

This PhD project will study SWI in heterogeneous coastal aquifers. Both experimental and numerical methods will be used. Data from a real field site is available and the computer model SEAWAT will be used, and recommendations will be given on how to slow or reduce saline intrusions in similar contaminated sites.

Students with a grade of 1st class or 2.1 can apply. Desirable to have some basics of computer simulations but not necessary.


1.Abdoulhalik, A, Abdelgawad, A., and Ahmed, A.A. (2019). Impact of Layered Heterogeneity on Transient Saltwater Upconing in Coastal Aquifers. Journal of Hydrology,

2. Ahmed, A. A., Abdoulhalik, A., (2018). Transient investigation of saltwater upconing in laboratory-scale coastal aquifer, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 214, 149-160.

3. Abdoulhalik, A., Ahmed, A. A. (2018). Transience of Seawater Intrusion in Response to Incremental Water Level Variations: Experimental and Numerical Study. Hydrogeological processes,

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 would 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)

Ashraf Ahmed Mohamed - Ashraf is a fellow member of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, chartered Engineer (CEng), chartered Environmentalist (CEnv), and Chartered Water and Environmental Manager of CIWEM (C.WEM). He has a BSc, Meng from Egypt, and PhD from the University of Manchester, all in Civil Engineering. Before joining academia, he worked in the industry for a short period in reinforced concrete design. Ashraf is currently a Reader at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Brunel University London. Before joining Brunel, he was a lecturer at the School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast. Ashraf has been involved in research grants totalling more than £9 million as Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator from EU, EPSRC, Newton, Innovate UK, and other sources. Ashraf is the principal investigator at Brunel for the project WE-ACT (€526,864,  January 2023 - December 2026) where he leads a team to build a machine learning model for efficient water management in a transboundary river area at central Asia.  This Horizon EU project is funded by UKRI through the UKRI Horizon Europe Funding Guarantee. Current research interests include the use of Artificial intelligence and deep learning in solving Civil Engineering problems, especially problems related to Environmental issues, water flow, and the impact of climate change. Ashraf is the developer and course director of the MSc in Water& Environmental Engineering. Externally, he serves as a member of CIWEM accreditation panel and is also an assessor of CEng, and CEnv applications.