Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Snow related Ph.D. position (the Stradivari snow project)

The Stradivari project research aims to build better tools for analysing the processes of the hydrological cycle. The project is more focused on the tools (building the violin) but it does not forget the music that has to be played. It is conceived to account for hydrological processes interactions and feedbacks, and develop new mathematics (equations) for their description. Use of appropriate contemporary numerics is also part of the project. The overall project builds on the foundations given by the GEOtop (http://abouthydrology.blogspot.com/2015/02/geotop-essentials.html) model and the GEOframe-NewAGE (http://geoframe.blogspot.com/) infrastructure. 

It is time to move on the generation of snow models. The computation abilities and the physics of snow are now much better known than thirty years ago. However, most of the snow model are based on parameterisations which should be updated. We start from the experience made in GEOtop (versions 0.*,1.* and 2.*) which is capable of reliable snow height, temperature and densities, at operational level over all the Alps, but we look also to the experiences made by CROCUS, SnowPack and Alpine 3D. In particular GEOtop use highlighted various issues that we plan to overcome with a new version of the model, which requires both deepening the thermodynamics of snow and its numerical implementation.

In synthesis we identify the following aspects to be improved:
  • Actual GEOtop snow model is 1-d. It can improved including the vapor phase movements explicitly. Besides, we can add modules to have a better account for: density, viscosity and, adding the vapor phase, type of grain. 
  • The physics. Analysing the thermodynamics to keep out of the future formulation empirical parameterisations of the processes which revealed obsolete; 
  • Adding Richards equation for water percolation; 
  • Analysing the separation rainfall, snowfall through a more physical modelling than actual; 
  • the description of deposition on canopies, and subsequent effects of vegetation on sublimation; the effect of slope and topography characteristics on snow deposition and sublimation 
  • blowing snow in complex terrain 
  • assimilation of hydro-meteorological data and calibration 
  • integration with remote sensing data 
This research will be implemented in strict collaboration with MobyGIS, EURAC Research (Giacomo Bertoldi, Ph.D), Stephan Gruber,  Professor at Carleton University and with Niccolò Tubini, the Ph.D. student who is actually developing new theory codes for Richards equation and freezing soil. Collaborative and unselfish spirit is required in this research group.
The project has also some practical outcomes that are related to:
  • the avalanche triggering 
  • the water availability due to snow and glaciers melting (both in the short and long terms) 
  • the hydroelectric production 
All the code developed will be done in Github (or similar platform), inside the GEOframe community and will be Open Source according to the GPL v3 license.

The candidate will take care of implementing, besides the code, the appropriate procedures for continuous integration of the evolving source code, and s/he will be also asked to maintain a regular rate of commits to the common open platform. Despite these conditions, and being free and open source, the code will be intellectual property by the coder. This will be guaranteed also by the components-based infrastructure offered by OMS3, which allows to better define the contributions of anyone.
The implementation part will be followed, accompanied by testing activities, either for mathematical consistency, than for physical consistency with experiments and field measurements.
The Ph.D. student is intended to produce, besides working and tested codes, also at least three papers in major journals (VQR Class A), of which, at least one as first Author. Duration of the doctoral studies could be three or four years.

This project can enter either the curriculum C (Environmental Engineering) or the curriculum A (Modelling and Simulation) of our doctoral school.

Further information of the policies of the research group can be found:

4 comments:

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  2. See this recent review to find out recent "hot" snow research topics:
    Dong, C., 2018. Remote sensing, hydrological modeling and in situ observations in snow cover research: A review. J. Hydrol. 561, 573–583. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2018.04.027

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    Replies
    1. Interesting but it will not chsnge my life

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