Assessing dynamic seabed change

The following opportunity is funded by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

Full project title

  • Assessing dynamic seabed change on the UK-Irish continental shelf

Understanding the rate and extent of change on a dynamic, changing seafloor is an essential requirement for the offshore construction industry. Problems can arise during the lifetime of the structure such as burial or scouring which require additional resource to ensure its integrity. Many examples of mobile bed forms on the UK-Irish shelf could be relict, formed during the isostatic readjustment of the shelf after the last glaciation and present no risk being inert (Howe et al., 2012). Conversely the rate of transport of modern, active dunes is difficult to ascertain without costly repeated surveys.  The recent availability of publicly accessible, comprehensive high-resolution seabed mapping data (e.g. multibeam and side-scan sonar surveys) from the UK and Irish Data Archive Centres provides an opportunity to utilise and interrogate these datasets (Howe et al., 2015). The project aims to utilise the open access provided by national seabed mapping projects as well as commercial datasets to examine regions of the UK-Irish shelf which could be subject to change.
The project adopts a ‘case study’ approach to sites which might present a risk to the offshore construction industry such as mobile bed forms (dunes), biogenic reefs (cold water corals) and wrecks. Where overlapping data exists, the present and previous seabed morphology will be calculated. Based on these calculations the scale, rate and extent of change can be quantified.

Other project collaborators include Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission – part of Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), Marine Science Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage.

The project is expected to start 1 October 2018


Applicants must possess a minimum of an Honours degree at 2:1 and/or a Master’s Degree (or International equivalent) in a relevant subject.

Funding information

The studentship covers fees, plus a stipend at the RCUK level, for a total of 39 months (including writing-up).

Funding is available for students worldwide, however non UK/EU students will be liable for the difference between home/EU and international fees.  Click to view our current fees.

Students must be domiciled in the Highlands and Islands region during the course of their study to be eligible for funding. Students are expected to be based full-time at: Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) UHI

Supervisory team

Dr. John Howe; SAMS UHI (Lead Academic)

Dr. Annika Clements; Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute NI (Co-supervision)

Deadline for applications for this project is 5pm 22nd June 2018 (UK time).

Informal project specific enquiries can be made to: Dr John Howe,

This studentship is delivered through The Bryden Centre - a partnership of academic institutions and other stakeholders, supported by industry partners, delivering an exciting collaborative programme of advanced marine renewable energy and bio-energy research.