PhD Studentship: Towards Airborne Hazard Emergency Management System for Local Environments

United Kingdom
Feb 01, 2016
Feb 01, 2017
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time

PhD Studentship: Towards Airborne Hazard Emergency Management System for Local Environments

Aerodynamics & Flight Mechanics Research Group

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:   Wednesday 01 February 2017
Reference:  685716AK

Project Reference: NGCM-0026

The accidental or deliberate release of hazardous chemicals in urban environments or industrial sites, potentially poses a substantial threat to the environment and societies. The Buncefield oil depot fire of 2005 resulted in the evacuation of hundreds of homes and closure of more than 200 schools and public buildings for two days; consequences would have been much more severe if prevailing meteorological conditions had promoted mixing or entrainment of the smoke plume into the urban canopy. It is crucial to be able to model, quickly (e.g. quicker than ‘real-time’) and reliably, dispersion from localised sources at short range (< 1 km, where the threat to human health is greatest) to inform decision making.  However, this is precisely where current operational models are least reliable because our understanding and ability to model short-range dispersion processes is limited. 

Large-Eddy Simulation (LES) is a high fidelity simulation tool that is able to predict the instantaneous properties and behaviour of chemical releases in the vicinity of complex geometries (e.g. from rural, semi-rural to urban environments). Nevertheless, challenges remain, including (1) thermal stratification effects due to global/localised surface heating, and (2) effects of meteorological conditions on dispersion. This project will focus on (1) and (2) for modelling gas dispersion, linking to other research activities at Southampton where appropriate.

Even with access to one of the most powerful High Performance Computers (such as IRIDIS4 at the University of Southampton) LES is computationally much slower than real time.  For instance, in some circumstances the location of the release may need to be identified and appropriate consequence management decisions need to be taken.Therefore, a comprehensive database to store these LES data (e.g. flow fields under pre-defined meteorological conditions) will be used for parameterisation or off-line by simpler and much faster approaches, e.g. the CT-Analyst model.  

The primary goal of the project is to extend the capability (e.g. efficiency and accuracy) of LES on such problems, and to provide a solid database (including post-processed statistics data) for verification and extension of fast prediction methods.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Zheng-Tong Xie, Aerodynamics and Flight Mechanics research group, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 4493.

This project is run through participation in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Next Generation Computational Modelling ( For details of our 4 Year PhD programme, please see

For a details of available projects click here

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