PhD Research Project: NERC CENTA - Thermal dynamics of the River Danube: long-term responses to env

United Kingdom
Nov 30, 2016
Jan 23, 2017
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time

Water temperature is critically important for riverine physical, chemical, and biological processes. There are many potential societal benefits if we can advance our understanding of: i. spatial and temporal dynamics and sensitivity of river temperature to catchment management and climate change, and ii. potential future trajectories given anticipated environmental change. While climate change can be expected to have a significant impact on riverine temperature, the effects will be spatially variable, with marked differences between the catchment headwaters and large alluvial reaches downstream.

At present, most river temperature studies have been conducted at the sub-basin scale; and there has been a marked lack of large-scale analyses of the thermal trends that are essential in developing assessment and management tools. The problems are compounded in trans-boundary basins, such as the River Danube, where the effects of flow regulation (for hydropower, navigation) in upper reaches have yet to be quantified.

This studentship will address these critical research gaps for the world’s most international river basin as it seeks to: 1) to characterise spatial and temporal variability in the thermal regime of the Danube in Austria, Hungary and Romania; (2) to quantify the impacts of hydropower and river structures on upper reaches; and 3) identify long-term trends in river temperature in unregulated reaches downstream. Information from 2 and 3 will be used to attribute trends in river water temperature to catchment / river management and long-term climate change.

The project will ultimately lead to the development of models to predict future river temperature changes based upon currently available catchment descriptors thereby enhancing our ability to identify viable mitigation and adaptation strategies for anticipated future increases in river temperature.

The project will use available secondary data to characterise the thermal dynamics of selected reaches, and determine the impacts of hydropeaking and the propogation of thermal impacts downstream. There will be opportunities to quantify trends by Wavelet analysis and forward model to derived scenarios of anticipated future changes in river temperature hydrogeomorphology (snow and ice cover; basin hypsometry; geology and landform units). Characterisation of organic matter and biogeochemical analysis will be used to determine seasonal changes in organic and inorganic geochemistry, and its relation to the hydrogeomorphology of the catchment. This will enable a quantitative evaluation of the extent to which fluxes of DOC influence ecological communities. This is an area of active interest in the international research community and will allow a scaling up of the role of these tributaries in influencing DOC concentrations in large rivers.

Funding Notes

In addition to completing an online application form, you will also need to complete and submit the CENTA studentship application form available from

CENTA studentships are for 3.5 years and are funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). In addition to the full payment of their tuition fees, successful candidates will receive the following financial support.

Annual stipend, set at £14,296 for 2016/17
Research training support grant (RTSG) of £8,000

CENTA students are required to undertake from 45 days training throughout their PhD including a 10 day placement.


Habersack, H., T. Hein, A. Stanica, I. Liska, R. Mair, E. Jäger, C. Hauer & C. Bradley. In Press. The challenges of river basin management: current status and future prospects of the River Danube from an engineering perspective. Science of the Total Environment.
Webb, BW, & F. Nobilis. 2007. Long-term changes in river temperature and the influence of climatic and hydrological factors. Hydrological Sciences Journal. 52 (1): 74-85.
Webb BW, DM Hannah, RD Moore, LE Brown & F Nobilis. 2008. Recent advances in stream and river temperature research. Hydrological Processes, 22 (7): 902-918

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