SAEON - PHD Funding for long-term research project to quantify key hydrological processes in semi-arid savanna ecosystems

SAEON is currently implementing a long-term research project to quantify key hydrological processes in semi-arid savanna ecosystems, in order to understand and model the impacts of global climate change and land use on these systems. Through partnership with the Water Research Commission, funding is available for a PhD student to work on one component of this project, from 2015 to 2017.

SAEON - PHD Funding for long-term research project to quantify key hydrological processes in semi-arid savanna ecosystems

SAEON is currently implementing a long-term research project to quantify key hydrological processes in semi-arid savanna ecosystems, in order to understand and model the impacts of global climate change and land use on these systems. Through partnership with the Water Research Commission, funding is available for a PhD student to work on one component of this project, from 2015 to 2017.

Background. In South Africa, the determination of environmental water requirements (the “ecological reserve”) for the nation’s rivers are well developed, but implementation of these remains a problem. In certain catchments hydrological and institutional mechanisms show promise that real-time ecological reserve flows can be managed sustainably. However, the hydrological domain is still fraught with model uncertainty, meaning that optimal delivery of ecological reserve flows may compromise the assurance of supply for the remaining allocable water. One of these uncertainties is the precise quantification of transmission losses (i.e. losses from river channels to riparian vegetation and groundwater) as a river flows downstream. PhD topic. The candidate will undertake research at selected sites along the Letaba River, Limpopo Province. This must involve quantification of riparian vegetation evapotranspiration losses in different geomorphic reaches of the river using energy-balance techniques (Scintillometery and/or Eddy Co-variance and/or Surface Renewal), and up-scaling these results by calibration of remote sensing ET data. Opportunity will be provided for study of other landscape-scale water use processes, of his / her choice, within the savanna biome of north-eastern South Africa.Bursary package. R150 per annum (3 years). All project-related expenses, including field monitoring equipment as well as travel to/from the home university will be covered by the project. Office space will be provided in the SAEON offices in Phalaborwa (Kruger National Park), but the candidate may be based at any approved university when not conducting field work on-site.

Application process. Applications should include a letter of motivation indicating your relevant skills and interests, a CV, and copies of an identity document and academic transcripts. The successful applicant will be required to find a suitable supervisor, and the award of the bursary is contingent on registration at an approved university. The candidate should be able start in early 2015.

Queries and applications should be sent to Dr Tony Swemmer (Manager: SAEON Ndlovu Node), at tony@saeon.ac.za or (013) 735 3564

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