A national-scale, dynamic model of the water environment: producing the code

This project will integrate environmental science and computer programming. The project aim is to take existing water quality models and begin code development to integrate them and allow the resultant model to be run at the national-scale.

Department: Geography & Environmental Science

Supervised by: Andrew Wade

The Placement Project

The Integrated Catchment Model (INCA) was developed at Reading and is used globally to simulate daily water-quality dynamics in individual catchments. In a recent review of the potential effects of climate change on the water environment of England, the Joint Water Evidence Group (DEFRA/EA) noted the need for a multi-pollutant water quality model that could be applied to multiple catchments to assess how environmental change will affect water quality. Versions of INCA have been developed for sediment, phosphorus and nitrogen and what is needed is to integrate these and apply the resultant new model across England. The equations are written and code development is the next step. Thus, the project aim is to write the code to allow the different model versions to be integrated and applied in multiple catchments. To begin, this will involve taking the existing models, integrating them with enhancements to run for a branched river network and for multiple pollutants, and testing the model behaviour. This work is stand alone and is designed to help pump prime a large grant application for a national scale simulation of the water environment. The work builds on a large portfolio of work already done by Reading under the European Union Frameworks 5, 6 and 7, and the student will be supported and mentored by Andrew Wade and Shovonlal Roy. It is anticipated the new model will ultimately run in the Cloud, possibly through on-going development of the Environmental Virtual Observatory by Professor Gurney or the Institute of Environmental Analytics.


Under the supervision of Wade, the student will work independently to produce the software design document, model code and initial evaluation of the model which will form the final report.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

Essential – Competent in computer programming. The programming language to be used is open for discussion. Desirable - Studying computer science (or similar) Desirable – Confident mathematician Desirable - Interest in environmental issues.

Skills which will be developed during the placement

The student will have the opportunity to be involved in exploratory research. The student will be guided through the research design and implementation process. Specifically, the student will be asked to provide an outline design for the code of the new mathematical model based on a set of existing equations. The design will be reviewed by the supervisor and other colleagues in the Department. Once the design is viewed as robust, then coding will proceed and the student will be guided on how to evaluate the success of the model in terms of code verification and also in terms of reproduction of observed water quality dynamics. Thus in addition to having a small research project for which they can take ownership, they will also learn about mathematical techniques for model evaluation and the environmental processes that determine water quality dynamics.

Place of Work

Russell Building, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Reading.

Hours of Work

37 hours per week

Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Monday 22 June 2015 - Friday 28 August 2015

How to Apply

CV and covering letter by 20th March. Interview date: 26 March 2015.A 20 minute test on computer coding and mathematics will be given.

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