The upstream Dutch Rhine is experiencing bed degradation at a rate of 2 cm per year, which is problematic to navigation and river management. Less erodible reaches hamper navigation, and in-channel structures are destabilised. Such ongoing bed degradation is also observed in the German Rhine, the Elbe River, and the Danube River. The German Water Management Authority has conducted sediment augmentation measures since 1978 to mitigate the bed degradation, and in 2016 the Rijkswaterstaat conducted a large-scale field experiment (at a cost of €15M) to investigate whether and how sediment augmentation can counteract the degradation problem and to constrain augmentation rates and sediment sizes for future augmentations.

The current vacancy deals with the second of two PhD positions. The first PhD student assesses the relative importance of the various causes of bed degradation. The research objectives of the currently considered second PhD project are to investigate the effectiveness of various mitigation measures, to predict their short-term and long-term effects on the river longitudinal profile, and to design mitigation measures, with particular attention to designing smart sediment augmentation measures.

Considered cases are the Dutch and German Rhine, the Elbe River, and the Danube River.

Daily advisor of the project is Dr Astrid Blom and co-advisor is Dr Enrica Viparelli (University of South Carolina, US). Stays at the University of South Carolina and the involved water management authorities (Netherlands, Germany, Austria) are foreseen. A practitioner group, consisting of members affiliated with the various water management authorities, Deltares, and consultancies will warrant the link to practice.

PhD: projects in general

As opposed to the situation in many other countries, Dutch universities do not have cursory PhD-programmes with a certain number of positions per year.

Our system is based upon proposals and grants, and it involves lengthy application procedures (duration at least one year, with a rather low score chance). In practice, this means that we apply for a position first, and start looking for a candidate once it has been granted.

All current positions and PhD opportunities are published on the Delft University of Technology website on the following webpages.