Supervisors: Dr Xiaogang Shi (Lancaster University), Professor Andrew Binley (Lancaster University) and Professor Dien Pham Van (Vietnam National University of Forestry)
Deadline for applications: Midnight 1 July
Studentship funding: Full studentships (UK tuition fees and stipend (£14,777 2018/19 [tax free])) for UK students for 3.5 years. Unfortunately funding is not available for non-UK students.
Why is this project interesting?
Droughts stand among the most damaging natural disasters in human, environmental and economic terms. In the Lower Mekong Basin, drought has been a prevalent concern for farmers over the last decades, especially for the Mekong Delta Region (MDR) that is the most productive region in agriculture and aquaculture in Viet Nam. Since late 2015, the MDR has experienced the longest and strongest drought period in nearly a century, severely affecting agricultural production of the region and the livelihood of local people. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) of Viet Nam, 1.5 million people in the MDR were in need of humanitarian assistance as of August 2016. The GDP growth in the first quarter of 2016 dropped to 5.6% while the first quarter growth for the same period in 2015 was 6.17% due to a serious reduction in exports of major goods produced in the MDR, including rice and seafood. Furthermore, the water level of the Mekong River has dropped to the lowest level since 1926. The low river levels have allowed seawater to penetrate 90 km inland, ruining vast swathes of cropland in the fertile delta and bringing considerable damage to the entire ecosystem. Therefore, improving drought prediction in the MDR is vital for stakeholders to make proper decisions on drought management and mitigation.
Droughts can be monitored effectively using climatic drought indices. But there is limited capability to use these indices due to sparse observation networks. Now, with the advent of advanced remote sensing techniques, a range of Big Data sources have been recognized as useful tools for the large-scale area monitoring. We believe that the advances in land surface models, global Big Data sources, and data assimilation now make it possible to develop a regional drought monitoring and forecasting system, where drought predictions are most needed and in situ networks are sparse. This work will deliver a better understanding of the drought impacts for stakeholders, which would support increased preparedness and resilience to droughts and hence contribute to societal well-being, environmental sustainability, and economic growth in Viet Nam.
What’s in it for you?
Through the guidance of the supervisory team, you will develop an interdisciplinary way of approaching remote sensing and hydrologic hazards. Extensive training will be given to the student in the fundamentals of drought forecasting, climate informatics and data science. You will benefit from the research training programme offered at Lancaster University, by being part of the large and vibrant Lancaster Environment Centre and by becoming a member of the water and climate research group. Moreover, there is great potential for high quality academic publications of the results.
Who should apply?
We are seeking applications from graduates in a relevant subject area, such as hydrology, physical geography, and computing science. Graduates in mathematics, physics, and engineering with an interest in applying their skills to the environmental sciences are also welcome.
How to apply
Please download the Development of a Big Data-based drought forecasting system for the Mekong Delta information for the application process.