Research to better predict fundamental Earth surface processes, such as sediment and microplastic transport is being carried out at the University of Hull.
It follows a £700,000 Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Independent Research Fellowship awarded to Dr Rob Dorrell, a University of Hull Research Fellow, to develop more accurate methods of predicting natural and artificial sediment transport across the earth’s surface.
Dr Dorrell said: “Many people think of the Earth as a blue planet, it is not, it is a muddy planet. Over 60 per cent of the earth’s surface is composed of erodible sediment overlain by water. Sediment transportation therefore determines the evolution of the earth’s surface, where we live, and it is critical we understand how it will change into the future.”
Current sediment transport models have existed for nearly 100 years, but have questionable accuracy and ability to properly predict physical processes, which are very important in understanding and mitigating a range of natural hazards, such as floods and tsunamis. Dr Dorrell’s NERC Fellowship aims to significantly improve the accuracy of sediment transport models, by redeveloping fundamental theory from the ground up rather than modifying existing models.
Dr Dorrell said: “The Fellowship will advance fundamental mechanics of environmental flows and in particular sediment transport process. Current theoretical models have sat in literature since the 1920s, and while people have recognised that these models are limited and flawed, until recently we have lacked the theory and technology to properly resolve and understand sediment-laden flow dynamics. The fellowship seeks to address this by integrating recent advances in flow measurement technology and fundamental fluid mechanics, validated by comparison to real-world sediment transport processes.”