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Computer simulations of water flow in flumes to model the effects of large woody debris in rivers

Academic lead
Dr Daniel Ruprecht (Mechanical Engineering)
Dr Megan Klaar, Geography, Dr Jon Summers, Mechanical Engineering
Project themes
Environmental Flows

Large woody debris in rivers has important effects on biogeochemical processes and subsequent ecosystem functioning. Recently, environmental policies have been implemented that encourage reintroduction of woody debris to improve nutrient attenuation and support fish and invertebrate diversity.

However, many aspects of how woody debris affects river flow are not yet well understood. This project will develop a tool to perform computer simulations of water flow around debris to increase understanding through in-silico studies. The work will be conducted in close collaboration with another PGR project at the Schools of Geography and Civil Engineering, where the problem will be investigated using flume-based experiments.

You will use a software for numerical simulation (DUNE, OpenFOAM, etc.) to set up computer simulations matching the flume-based experimental design. In collaboration with colleagues performing experiments, you will validate the simulation results against the laboratory measurements, first in idealised scenarios involving flumes and later for setups of increasing complexity and realism. Ultimately, results from simulations will be used to optimise the design of river restoration projects which seek to promote natural processes within degraded rivers The outputs of this project will be used by environmental regulators, managers and charities to help improve the natural environment.