Tallinna Tehnikaülikool

PhD Project in Coastal and Marine Engineering

Thesis title: Sediment budget on the eastern and southern coasts of the Baltic Sea
PhD Programme: Building and Civil Engineering and Architecture
Supervisor: Tarmo Soomere, Lead Research Scientist
C-supervisor: Kevin Ellis Parnell, Research Professor
Offered by:  Department of Cybernetics,
Laboratory of Wave Engineering

The gradual increase in the relative water level along most of the eastern and southern shores of the Baltic Sea (Hünicke et al. 2015) and the projected increase in the frequency of wave storms and extreme water levels (Pindsoo and Soomere 2016) creates a rapidly increasing pressure on sedimentary coasts of the Baltic Sea. This pressure is further amplified by possible changes in the wave approach directions (Soomere et al. 2015Kudryavtseva and Soomere 2017). This change may radically alter the structural properties (such as the location of divergence and convergence areas; Viška and Soomere 2013) of wave-driven alongshore transport. This in turn not only affects erosion and accretion areas but has also major implications on the maintenance and planning of various coastal engineering structures (harbours, breakwaters, groins etc).

The existing atmospheric, ocean circulation and wave models make it possible to reliably reconstruct the main features of nearshore wave fields and water levels and thus also the wave-driven transport and to some extent the loss of sediment. Most of the research into wave-driven sediment transport until now has been performed in terms of statistical properties of wave fields. In other word, the actual sequences of events are ignored. This approximation is very crude in the Baltic Sea conditions where the classic „cut and fill“ process usually does not occur and where the local effects may substantially contribute the actual water level near the waterline (Pindsoo and Soomere 2015). In particular, this approximation leads to systematic biases in estimates of the basic properties of sedimentary beaches (Soomere et al. 2017).

The proposed PhD studies focus on the understanding of the impact of timing and synchronisation of wave storms and high water level events on the properties of wave-driven sediment transport along sedimentary shores of the eastern and southern Baltic Sea and on the total sediment budget on the shores of this region. The central goal is to build an adequate estimate of sediment budget on these shores by combining i) observed data about changes to the location of the coastal scarp and the waterline and ii) numerical estimates of wave-driven sediment transport on the underwater part of the beach.

The particular goals are to:

  • evaluate of the recession rates of the coastal scarp and the changes in the location of the waterline from available monitoring data;
  • establish the structural properties (the areas of divergence and convergence) of wave-driven sediment transport and their stability in space and time;
  • estimate the „impact“ of synchronisation of wave storms and changes in the water level on the basic properties of beaches such as the closure depth or the width of the equilibrium profile;
  • numerically estimate the changes in amount of sediment in the underwater part of the beach;
  • quantify the sediment budget (loss or gain of sediment) along the study area by combining the estimates for the dry beach and for the underwater part of the beach.

Qualifications of the applicants:

  • MSc degree or equivalent qualification in one of the following fields: Earth sciences, physical oceanography, coastal engineering, ocean engineering, mathematics, physics, remote sensing
  • experience with common scientific software (e.g. Matlab)
  • very good command of English

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