PhD – Cork Coastline Dynamics

Closing Date for Applications: 19 Apr 2022

Contract Type: Fixed Term Whole-Time

Funding details: €18,000 stipend per annum. EU tuition fees will be covered for three and a half years. Non-EU applicants are welcome to apply but may incur additional fees.

Duration: 42 months

Supervisor: Dr Jimmy Murphy and Dr Michael O’Shea (Engineering), Dr Fiona Cawkwell (Geography).

Over 1.9 million people, or approximately 40% of the population in Ireland live within 5km of the coast, with 40,000 living less than 100m from the coast (CSO, 2016). Additionally, much of the nation’s economic and social infrastructure and activity also lies within coastal areas, and the threat posed by coastal erosion and flooding could potentially have an impact across the whole country. In order to understand and anticipate areas that are most at risk, a comprehensive assessment of recent coastal erosion using a mix of field surveys and geoinformatics mapping techniques is required, which can be integrated with additional physical, social and economic spatial data in a GIS. Using this information, in addition to the output from numerical modelling of environmental forcing’s and beach changes, a methodology can be developed to provide a quantifiable metric of the vulnerability of the coastline that can be tested against known events. The GIS can therefore be used as a decision support tool for more efficient coastal management and enable the optimal design of coastal protection solutions.

To address the above challenges associated with managing an exposed Atlantic coastline, Cork County Council are now funding two PhD positions.   This PhD position will focus on understanding coastal behaviour whilst the second PhD position will through the use of a GIS develop a coastal vulnerability assessment methodology. Both PhDs will use the County Cork coastline as a case study location.   

The two students will work in close collaboration and will be based in UCC, primarily at the MaREI Centre (see below) in the Beaufort Building but also as required in the School of Engineering or the Geography Department.  They will conduct a specified programme of research under the supervision and direction of UCC supervisors, and in collaboration with staff from Cork County Council.  It is expected that the students will benefit from interaction with other research groups across the Environmental Research Institute as well as undertake further studies from courses offered within the university.

MaREI/ERI Background

MaREI is a key research centre within UCC’s Environmental Research Institute (ERI), which is an internationally recognized Institute for environmental research dedicated to the understanding and protection of our natural environment and to developing innovative technologies, tools, and services to facilitate a transformation to a zero carbon and resource efficient society. The MaREI Centre is an SFI funded research centre headquartered in the ERI and includes 13 other Universities and Third Level Institutes from across Ireland, has 50 industrial partners, and has accumulated research funding of approximately €60m. It combines the expertise of a wide range of research groups and industry partners, with the shared mission of solving the main scientific, technical, and socio-economic challenges across the climate, energy, and marine spaces.  MaREI is also funded by SEAI, EI, EPA, ERDF, EU, HEA, Marine Institute, DCCAE and IRC, as well as through contributions from our industry partners. Researchers in the MaREI Centre have over 30 years of experience in conducting fundamental and applied research supported by competitively won national and international funding, and commercial contracts with government agencies and industry. MaREI’s strengths lie in the multi-disciplinary nature of its research teams, allowing it to combine insights across areas such as MRE Technologies, Materials & Structures, Observations & Operations, Coastal & Marine Systems, Bioenergy, Energy Policy & Modelling and Renewable Energy Management.

Description of Research

The research programme is as follows:

  • Understanding the nature of coastal change, through field measurement and numerical modelling, of the County Cork coastline.
  • Quantification of environmental forcings along the Cork coastline.
  • Assess and develop methodologies for predicting future coastline position.
  • Determine the sensitivity of the coastline position to climate change.
  • Input information and data required for the development of a coastal vulnerability Index assessment.
  • Examine potential engineering solutions for most vulnerable locations.

Selection Criteria

  • Minimum 2H1 (second class honours, grade 1) honours degree, or equivalent, in engineering, geography, environmental science, or cognate discipline, with a postgraduate qualification desirable.
  • Experience in using numerical models (DHI software) for wave propagation and beach behaviour along with the associated data analysis is desirable
  • Knowledge of coastal processes.
  • Demonstrable capability of working within a project team and ability to innovate.
  • Good communication, organisation and interpersonal skills.
  • Excellent academic writing skills in the language of English.

To Apply:

Please send:

  1. Short cover letter (max 1 page) describing your motivation for applying for the position and how your experience and expertise match the research topic.
  2. CV, including lists of relevant courses taken, research/industry projects performed, relevant experience and any publications.

to Dr Jimmy Murphy (ei.ccu@yhprum.ymmij)  quoting “Cork Coastline Dynamics PhD” in the subject line of your email.

Closing date for applications: Tuesday, 19 April 2022.