Changing climate and landuse in Upland Wales: reconstructing extremes and regimes in West Wales and the valleys. (PhD Scholarship)

Changing climate and landuse in Upland Wales: reconstructing extremes and regimes in West Wales and the valleys.

Aberystwyth University, DGES

Project ID: AU20004
Annual Stipend: £14,340
Application Deadline: 15th February 2018

The project will be delivered in three phases:

First, landcover and landuse map of key water supply catchments in West Wales and the valleys area will be completed using available maps, satellite imagery and ground based surveys. Focussing primarily on the natural peatlands and unmanaged water bodies, this mapping will identify priority sites suitable for the extraction of long palaeoenvironmental sedimentary records. UAV flights and GPS surveying will be conduction on selected peatlands to accurately document their current dimensions and to assess their relative health.

Second, based on the initial survey work, peat and limnological record(s) with close hydrological links will be extracted using the most appropriate coring apparatus (Livingstone/ Russian corers, both already owned by AU). Core material obtained will be returned to the specialist facilities at AU where core splitting, logging and cataloguing (incl XRF scanning) will be conducted. Material will be sampled and sent to external facilities (e.g. NERC/ NRCF) for isotopic dating (radiocarbon) to establish a chronological model for records retrieved. Onsite water quality analysis and ecological surveying will also be conducted at each site to establish the reference data needed for the later interpretation of the palaeoenvironmental record, as well as to further asses the current health of the local upland ecosystem.

The final component of work will be palaeoenvironmental laboratory analysis of proxy climate indicators within the peat and lake sedimentary archives extracted. The choice of methodology and climate proxy will depend upon the type and temporal duration of the sediments recovered, but methods appropriate for detecting climatic adjustments include: analysis the visible peat stratigraphy, humification (local bog surface wetness) and macrofossils. In addition, other biological and geochemical techniques (e.g. biomarkers, stable isotopes) are increasingly being applied. The multiproxy climate reconstruction acquired, combined with the chronological control obtained, will allow both the magnitude and timing of hydrological changes/ disturbances to be reliably identified. This will provide a key component of the evidence base to underpin DCWW’s resilience program.

The prospective applicant should have a minimum of a 1st or good 2:1 in a relevant degree, and be available to take up the studentship by October 2018. The project is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the European Union’s Convergence programme administered by the Welsh Government. KESS II PhD scholarships are collaborative awards with external partners. (Applicants need to only apply, they do not need to search for partners.)

To apply, please submit the following to the Postgraduate Admissions Office (address below) by 15th February 2018.

  1. A completed Research Programme Application Form, two references. Application and reference forms may be downloaded from
  2. A completed KESS II Participant proposal form (put the reference number AU20004 in the top right hand box of the application form) and an up-to-date CV. KESS II application forms are available to download at the link below.

  1. A PhD proposal of up to 1,000 words where you expand on your experience and interests and describe why you are a good candidate for this research studentship. Please refer to the Project Description.


Value of Award: A stipend of £14,340 (rising in accordance with inflation for the remaining two years). Each scholarship has an additional budget for travel, equipment/consumables and training to support your research. KESS II PhD Scholarship holders do not pay fees.

Length: Full-time for 3 years. (Theses must be submitted 6 months after the funded three year study period.)

Training: The achievement of a Postgraduate Skills Development Award (PSDA) is compulsory for each KESS II scholar (The PSDA is based on a 60 credit award, which is an additional award to the PhD).

Eligibility: To be eligible to apply for a KESS II award, you must be resident, upon starting the scholarship, in the Convergence Area of Wales and you must be able to take paid employment in the Convergence area on completion of the scholarship.

The Convergence Area means the following counties of Wales:

Isle of Anglesey
Neath Port Talbot
Rhondda Cynon Taff

For further student eligibility criteria related to the individual projects, please view the details of the individual project above.

Informal enquiries should be made to Prof M G Macklin or Prof Paul Brewer at ;  or 01970 622656; 01970 622586.

Address for applications:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Recruitment & Admissions
Student Welcome Centre
Aberystwyth University
SY23 3FB

Quote Reference AU20004

Closing date for applications 15th February 2018