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Flow of groundwater in soils with vegetation and variable surface influx

This project will use mathematical models of soil water and the growth of plants. Even for plants with complicated root densities we will look for analytical solutions of the models to help understand plant growth.

Number of places



27 February 2018


Applicants should have or expect to obtain a good (I or II(i)) honours degree in mathematics or in a related discipline.

Project Details

This complicated system can be modelled using various models and combined into a single system of differential equations. This project will consider single site depth-only models where, even for systems which include complicated rooting profiles, analytical solutions are possible, but also two- and three-dimensional models in which the relatively shallow depth compared to the plan area of the aquifer can be utilised to make certain "thin-film" approximations to the governing equations.

Groundwater is the water underneath the surface of the earth which fills the small spaces in the soil and rock and is extremely important as a water supply in many areas of the world. In the UK, groundwater sources, or aquifers, make up over 30% of the water used, and a single borehole can provide up to 10 million litres of water every day (enough for 70,000 people).

The flow of water into and out of these aquifers is clearly an important issue, more so since current extraction rates are using up this groundwater at a faster rate than it is being replenished. In any specific location the fluxes of water occur from precipitation infiltrating from the surface, evaporation from the surface, influx from surrounding areas under the surface, the flow of surface water (e.g. rivers) into the area, and the transpiration of water from underground directly into the atmosphere by the action of rooted plants.


Further information

For further information about the project please contact Professor Mottram