March 2014
Message 84

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[Met-jobs] PhD studentship ports and climate change, University of Southampton

From "Brown S." <>
To "" <>
Date Fri, 28 Mar 2014 10:24:16 +0000

Three year PhD studentship: Climate change Impacts, adaptation and legislation in port environments


We have a three-year PhD studentship based in the Faculty of Engineering and Environment and the Faculty of Business and Law at the University of Southampton, UK. The University hosts the Southampton Maritime and Marine Institute who are funding this research. The successful student will analyse the impacts and adaptation possibilities (with an emphasis on legislation) to ports as a result of climatic and coastal change.




Sea-level rise is expected to accelerate this century potentially leading to adverse impacts, some which may be reduced through anticipation and adaptation. Sea ports are vital nodes in the transport system, billions of tons of cargo. Potentially highly vulnerable to extreme events and sea-level rise, local events and subsequent impacts can have global consequences, as seen through Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005) and Sandy (2012). With rising sea levels, extreme events will happen more often, and it is important to qualitatively and quantitatively assess the initial impacts and secondary effects of this. To date, limited studies have accessed awareness and adaptation of ports to sea-level rise, but even fewer have considered the legal and regulatory implications of this, such as on adaptation policies, shipping routes, delays and governance, particularly from an international perspective. Additionally, with larger vessels, port expansion and a push for more efficient and carbon-friendly operations, the protocols and national and international adaptation and legal frameworks and the operations of this require consideration. Aside from environmental change, trade is also threatened by downturns in the economy and so need to remain efficient in operations, managing assets and maintaining supply chains. Thus the aim of this PhD is to analyse and quantify the operational aspects of ports that may be affected by extreme events and sea-level rise, and put them in an adaptation context, with a focus on legislation.




This studentship will involve:


a)     Reviewing existing literature and data on port operations and possible adverse climatic effects.

Aspect of investigation could include: causes of delay, sphere of importance, potential shipping routes, delays and supply chain management. Potential data sources for part b will be determined.


b)     Develop a quantitative methodology to ascertain present regulatory and economic costs of extreme weather events, and potential future impacts and costs.

From a subset of the review and data identified, the student will determine a methodology to quantify this and the legislative aspects through representative case study ports (e.g. regulatory effect of supply chains, market value of goods). A major challenge central to the success of the PhD is developing a new robust methodology that could be utilised in other port environments today and in the future if adverse conditions become more frequent. The effects of legislative changes in light of a changing environment will be considered.


c)     Consider the potential adaptation options, including legislation and wider environmental implications.

Once impacts and costs have been quantified, adaptation and legislation can be considered – both now and under scenarios of social and climatic change, such as who pays and why? What can you optimumally adapt? How will port downtime change with climate change, and can adaptation and legislation reduce costs?


Candidate requirements


We are looking for an enthusiastic student who either has previous experience or is keen to work in a multi-disciplinary research environment. The student is expected to have at least a 2:1, and ideally a Masters level degree, in either a science, engineering or legislative discipline (or a similar degree with a quantitative background). A coastal or maritime theme, or units taken as part of a previous degree is desirable, but not essential. It is not expected that the proposed student should already have experience all three disciplines, as further support and training will be provided. This research requires key skills such as handling of large data sets and numerical analysis. The PhD will be supervised by Dr Sally Brown, Prof Robert Nicholls (Engineering and the Environment) and Prof Mikis Tsimplis (Law). Funding covers fees (at UK/EU level), stipend and research costs. The proposed start date is October 2014.


If you are interested, please send you CV and a covering letter as to why you are particularly interested in this PhD and how your skills, knowledge and experience relate to the proposed topic.


For more information before applying, please contact Sally Brown (; +44(0)2380 594796). Closing date: Sunday 20th April 2014, with interviews proposed either Thursday 24th or Friday 25th April.



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