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Daniel Ward

High Performance Software Engineer
Hartree Centre, STFC
PhD Title
Modelling the dispersal of ash from volcanic plumes


I spent three years undertaking my BSc in Mathematics at the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands.  For my bachelor thesis I worked under a PhD student, augmenting his research, to attempt to assess and validate a number of turbulence models for Large Eddy Simulation.  I did this by classifying and using relatively simplistic exact solutions to the Navier Stokes equations to satisfy conditions on the models.

Research Interests

Accurately predicting the deposition of ash from a volcanic eruption is critical for decisions on public health and to the aviation industry, the 2010 eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, for example, led to widespread disruption of flights across Europe.  Furthermore, volcanic eruptions that occurred in the past often have no available data for plume parameters such as what the source conditions were at the time of eruption, or the height reached by the plume. Data on ash accumulation is often the only record of eruptions, inversion methods exist to predict plume parameters using solely the available data.

In this project, we use the spectral element code Nek5000 to perform direct numerical simulations (DNS) of turbulent plumes in stably-stratified windy and quiescent environments.  Lagrangian particle tracking is used to model the dispersal and deposition of volcanic ash. This will help develop an understanding of the dispersal dynamics of ash from a volcanic plume.  Comparing results to existing models of particle dispersal, and observations from volcanic eruptions, facilitates the improvement of these models and aids in predictions of ash fall from volcanic eruptions, as well as improving existing inversion methods.

Why I chose the CDT in Fluid Dynamics

I chose to do a combined MSc and PhD at the CDT in Leeds for a number of reasons.  The interdisciplinary approach, having come from a very theoretical degree, means I will be in constant collaboration with other students from varying backgrounds and will help me to develop my understanding of physical problems.  The fact that there is also time included during the MSc to explore my area of interest before choosing my PhD project made picking the CDT at Leeds an easy choice.