PhD Students in the School of Geography

Josephine Westlake
PhD Project: Estimating flood frequency in the Trent, Witham and Yorkshire Ouse rivers using documentary and floodplain sedimentary archives to extend flood series.

About Me

"I graduated with a Bachelor degree in Engineering from the University of Leeds in 2003 but my passion for studying the Earth never diminished. I returned to study in 2010 and graduated with a BSc in Geosciences from the Open University in 2012. The Institute of Physics  awarded me a scholarship and I successfully completed my teacher training in 2015. Despite my love of physics and teaching, I knew I wanted to move into research and found my interest lay in natural hazards so left work to study an MSc in Geophysical Hazards through UCL. I now feel exceptionally lucky to join the expansion of the new School of Geography under the supervision of Professor Mark Macklin as their first PhD student."

My Research

"My research will extend the known flood series around Nottingham, York and Lincoln through the inclusion of documentary and sedimentary records. This is pioneering work in the UK where flood risk assessment is traditionally based upon extrapolating instrumental records extending back little more than a hundred years. This excludes larger events with longer return periods which occurred prior to the recording of instrumental data. The existing method also fails to account for non-stationarity in terms of channel dimensions, land use and climate over time. The inclusion of real data from a flood series extended back to Roman times should allow the creation of probabilistic assessments of flood risk which account for these factors."

Project Stage: Year 1

The first steps focus on compiling a database of flood histories based on existing research and extracting sediment cores using our Dando Terrier drill rig to characterise flood deposits at each location. Finally satellite and field survey data will be gathered to allow later mapping of palaeochannels as they have evolved through time.