Healthy Atlantic Basin

The work will be carried in the wide subject of Healthy Atlantic Basin. Research will be focused on marine and coastal ecosystem modelling in the Amazon Delta to support management practices and decision making. New knowledge and technologies will contribute to protect and restore exploited ecosystem services and to identify and sustainably explore new ecosystem services still strengthening resilience against climate change. The Amazonia Delta was chosen for its dimension, for the range of interdependent estuarine processes and for the impact of the freshwater plume in the Atlantic Ocean, that extends up to the Caribbean region.

AIR Centre PhD grants are aimed at applicants enrolled or that comply with the requirements to enrol for PhD related studies and who wish to carry out research towards this degree. Candidates holding a master’s degree or a 5-year undergraduate diploma in Environmental Engineering or related fields may apply. Good skills on Fluid Mechanics (from oceanography or engineering) and programing are preferred. Candidates must explain in the motivation letter their vision of the problem to be solved and why they have the skills necessary to carry the job.

Working Hypothesis
The Amazonian Delta has been object of many research projects using in-situ measurements, remote sensing and modelling, but an integrated view of the processes occurring in the Delta is still missing. What is the contribution of the Amazonas river water to the processes in the Pará Estuary? How does the exchange along the Breves Straights compares with the exchange through the mouth associated to the tidal flow? How does it compare with other rivers discharge and with the freshwater discharge generated inside the Delta and transported along the local small catchments? The difficulty to answer these questions is a consequence of the large size of the Delta and of the complexity of its morphology that turns in-situ data into “small data” for this purpose.
The answer to the above questions will contribute to compute budgets of suspended matter to the Pará estuary for which the Amazon water is a major source. The suspended matter plays a major role on the control of the planktonic primary production in the upper Pará Estuary, enhancing the importance of the mangrove areas, including in the Guajará Bay where the Major urban area (Belém) is located.

The global picture of the Amazon Delta must be based on remote sensing and modelling, the only technologies able to address the Delta as a whole. Used together, these tools can give global and local solutions and can contribute to explain the processes controlling them. The new generation of Sentinel satellites produces high-resolution data sets covering very wide areas of the delta, that can be zoomed up to the local scale. Remote sensing needs to be complemented by modelling because it cannot address all important properties neither the processes responsible for the results. The combination of remote sensing and a system of nested models can link the whole estuary scale to the local scale, addressing processes and variables not measurable by remote sensing both in the water column and in the local catchments.

The combination of remote sensing, modelling and local in-situ truth data will give the optimal solution to explain, quantify and protect local ecosystems in the delta. A former implementation of a set of models for the estuary and the assessment of Sentinel images for suspended matter put into evidence the role of the permanent flow along the Breves straights for the particulate matter budget of the Pará estuary and the importance of sporadic communication between the Amazon Estuary (southern channel and the Pará estuary mouth) The study also suggests that some local catchments (e.g. Guamá) also contribute with important suspended matter loads.

For all reasons pointed above it is suggested modelling to be carried in two steps. In the first step a catchment model including a 2D surface runoff module based on the Saint-Venant equations able to simulate the tide is proposed. This model will simulate the whole delta, including the catchment and will compute water and sediment budgets. Then this model will be coupled to a 3D baroclinic model to simulate the processes on the continental shelf and in the ocean to address the fate of the water discharged in the ocean by the Amazon delta.

The whole system will be forced by the CMEMS results in the ocean boundary, by ANA (The Brazilian Water Agency) in the river Boundaries (Amazon, Tocantins and Xingu) and by meteorological data provided by GFS if CPTEC/INPE data is not available). The whole system will be validated using remote sensing data and in-situ data.
The MOHID modelling system includes branches (Land and Water) that are the basic infrastructure to build the system of applications described above. MOHID also includes pre and post processing tools to couple the model to boundary sources and to carry validation.

Most student effort will be consecrated to model implementation, validation and to the use of the results to assess ecosystem services. In the framework of these activities the student will have the opportunity to learn about model technicalities and to contribute for improving coupling between MOHID Land and MOHID Water.

Name(s) of supervisor(s)
Supervisor: Ramiro Neves, MARETEC/Instituto Superior Técnico
Co-supervisor: Marcelo Rollnic, Federal University of Pará

Name(s) of hosting institution(s)
The work will be carried in the Maretec Research at Instituto Superior Técnico in the MOHID Modelling team under the supervision of the team coordinator, Prof. Ramiro Neves. At the Laboratório de Pesquisa em Monitoramento Ambiental Marinho – LAPMAR, Federal University of Pará, Prof. Marcelo Rollnic will support the student on the link with local stakeholders and will support the candidate on data collection, including existing data and data to be collected in the framework of local ongoing projects. The student can spend part of the time at UFPA to perform field work and /or to make contacts with stakeholders following programs to be agreed between the supervisor and the co-supervisor.

Identification of PhD program
PhD Program in Environmental Engineering, offered by Instituto Superior Técnico

Please check PhD program’s website for application deadlines here.

Jury Composition
José Alberto Santos Victor (Chairman), Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal
Nuno Lourenço, CoLAB + Atlântico, Portugal
Marcos Mateus, Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal

FCT application form
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You can download the FCT form here.

GDPR Policy Terms
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