Ph.D. – Imperial College London

Ph.D. – Imperial College London

Citizen science for water resources management in the tropical Andes – Imperial College London

Consistently rated amongst the world’s best universities, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research.

Water resources of remote mountain regions such as the tropical Andes are under severe threat. Not only is climate change disturbing weather patterns and causing disruptions to local hydrological processes such as accelerated melting of glaciers and drying of wetlands. But continuously increasing pressure on land from intensification of agriculture, soil degradation and erosion, and mining concessions also strongly affects and degrades the hydrological function of local ecosystems. At the same time, mountain highlands are among the most data scarce regions in the world, overlooked by traditional hydrometeorological monitoring networks, and posing practical and logistical challenges to scientific data collection. 


To overcome the data scarcity that jeopardizes water resources and ecosystem management in the tropical Andes, the NGO CONDESAN has implemented a participatory hyrometeorological monitoring network. Local communities actively participate in the design, installation and maintenance of rain and river gauges, and use the resulting knowledge to guide conserving the ecosystem services that support their livelihoods. The initiative is a prime example of ‘Citizen science’, the process in which local people actively participate in the generation of new knowledge. 

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Using CONDESAN’s participatory monitoring in the tropical Andes as a case study, this PhD will develop the scientific basis for the use of citizen science to support the management of mountain water resources. The research will combine fieldwork and advanced modelling approaches. The field work will consist of the collection of hydrological and socio-economic data on water resources management in several monitoring locations in the tropical Andes (Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia). The data will be analysed using state-of-the art hydrometeorological models, to assess the capacity to support quantitative scenario analysis and predictions of future water availability. 


The PhD will form part of a £1.8 million consortium project investigating the potential of citizen science to improve ecosystem services management and alleviate poverty funded by the UK ESPA programme. The project has case studies in Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Ethiopia and Peru, and is led by Imperial College London with 9 other partners in the UK and overseas. 

The successful candidate will have an MSc degree in hydrology, water resources, environmental engineering or similar discipline, and an excellent academic record.

Dept/School/Faculty: Grantham Institute of Climate Change.


PhD Supervisor: Dr W Buytaert

Application Deadline: 31 Oct 2013


The studentship is for 3 years and includes a yearly allowance of £15,726, which is free of taxes. Applications are open to any nationality, but only UK/EU tuition fees will be covered (£3,900 per year). 

Experience in tropical regions, and a working knowledge of Spanish are desirable. 

Funding Notes:

The Grantham Institute’s mission is to drive climate related research and translate it into real world impact, drawing on the extensive expertise at Imperial College London. The Institute currently has a cohort of about 40 PhD students working across many disciplines on climate change related research projects.

Apply Online


Visit Official Website Grantham Institute of Climate Change.

Visit Official Website Imperial College London


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