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PhD opportunity on water management in mountainous areas at the University of Aberdeen
University of Aberdeen, , United Kingdom
Apply before: 1 December 2021

We have a PhD opportunity at the University of Aberdeen and Queen's University Belfast within the QUADRAT DTP, funded by NERC.

QUADRAT studentships are open to UK and Overseas candidates. Funding will cover UK tuition fees/stipend/research & training support grant only. Please visit QUADRAT's website ( to submit your application.

About the project:

QUADRAT DTP: The future of irrigated agriculture in Europe's mountainous regions; exploring trade-offs and synergies for climate adaptation

This project will address the need for sustainable agricultural water management strategies under climate change. It will explore the trade-offs between (changes in) water availability, crop water demand, irrigation practices, and other socio-economic factors. Climate change has a multitude of direct and indirect impacts on Europe’s farming regions. Ultimately, they will result in shifts in the conditions under which crops can grow where, and how this may be supported by irrigation practices in areas where water demand will exceed water availability. Many of Europe’s farming regions depend on water resources originated in mountainous areas. For these regions particularly, we lack a good understanding of the (changes) in water resources and implications for agricultural management. This interdisciplinary project will address questions such as:

  1. How will climate change impact water resources management in mountain-dependent regions due to increased irrigation water demand across Europe?
  2. How do climate adaptation strategies differ across regions and how does this influence local and regional water resources management?
  3. What are the trade-offs and synergies of climate adaptation between irrigated agriculture and water use in other economic sectors? How can better coordination and collaboration across sectors, in water resources management, can be supported?
  4. Will the expansion of irrigated agriculture to new regions threaten the sustainability of their water resources supply?

Are you interested in these questions? Then we are looking for you to join our team at the University of Aberdeen and Queen’s University Belfast.

The project will aim to quantify the effect of climate change on irrigation water demand in different case studies in mountainous regions across Europe and subsequent operational and management challenges. Regions of particular interest are the Spanish Pyrenees, Switzerland, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. These regions present various degrees of irrigation dependence, forecasted climate change impacts, and adaptive capacity. The project will be mostly desk-based, but it will be possible to organise exchanges and/or visits to the regions of study for stakeholder engagement and scenario development. The supervisory team is well connected to stakeholders in the study regions. Data are available to develop regional and local hydro-economic models to assess and compare the costs (direct and indirect) of alternative climate adaptation strategies.

The project will suit a student with a background in hydrology, geography/geosciences, natural resources management, agriculture or economics, and good numerical skills. The student will be given thorough multidisciplinary training, including in the collection of hydrological and socio-economic data, statistical analyses, and modelling. There is also the opportunity to develop skills in stakeholder engagement and developing and translating research into practical water management solutions. The relative importance of the different project components will depend on the interests of the student.

Best regards,


Dr. David Haro Monteagudo (

Lecturer in Global Hydrology and Water Security

Northern Rivers Institute (, School of Geosciences,

University of Aberdeen,

Aberdeen, Scotland, UK AB24 3UF

UK Top 20 (The Guardian University Guide 2021)

World Top 180 (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021)

Of interest for:
  • Hydrology Focus Research Group