Impact of forest structural properties on rainfall partitioning – MRes Scholarship

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Impact of forest structural properties on rainfall partitioning

Bangor University, School of Natural Sciences

Project ID: BUK2E074
Annual Stipend: £11,819
Application Deadline: 1st September 2022

Rainfall partitioning by tree canopy is an important hydrological process in forested catchments and accounts for a significant proportion of their water balance. A tree cover has good potential to reduce flood risk by increasing canopy evaporation, enhancing below and above ground flood storage and slowing the flow of water towards streams. However, the influence of forest structural properties on rainfall partitioning is not yet fully understood. Rainfall interception models require an estimate of canopy storage capacity to determine the amount of interception and throughfall occurring during rain events. This estimate is either obtained from satellite derived values of the Leaf Area Index (LAI), which tend to have a coarse spatial resolution, or is empirically calibrated from experimental throughfall data. Unfortunately, current approaches do not fully account for the relevant forest structural properties, which could potentially lead to a mischaracterisation of the canopy storage capacity. Recent advances in LiDAR scanning techniques provides the opportunity to accurately measure the forest structural properties, providing the possibility for accurate characterization of forest profile through tree diameter distribution modelling. By linking these with rainfall interception models, we propose to enhance our understanding of rainfall interception by vegetation.

This project will employ a combination of field work and computer-based modelling. Specifically, we will use Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) for detailed characterisation of forest structural metrics such as tree diameter distribution and Leaf Area Index (LAI). These metrics will then be linked with experimental throughfall data that is being collected in the field across multiple types of forest cover to analyse their impact on canopy storage estimates. Plot-scale forest inventory measurements from field work will be used to validate a canopy interception model that is based on the commonly used Gash-Rutter formulation. Airborne Laser Scanning (ALS) will be used to up-scale the resulting models and investigate the effects of forest structure on catchment hydrology.

The prospective applicant should have a minimum of a good 2:1 in a relevant degree and be available to take up the studentship by October 2022. Previous experience in hydrological modelling, R programming, or scripting for batch processing is highly desirable. A requirement of the studentship is a 30-day placement with the partner company (Forest Research), during the period of the project.

Expected start date: 01/10/2022

Interested applicants who wish to discuss the role further can contact Dr Sopan Patil via email (

To apply for this fully funded post, please email a current CV and covering letter (2 A4 pages maximum) to and cc to Penny Dowdney ( by 1st September 2022.

Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2 East) is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for East Wales.

Due to ESF funding, eligibility restrictions apply to this scholarship. To be eligible, the successful candidate will need to be resident in East Wales on University registration, and must have the right to work in the region on qualification.