Upcoming Research Topic on Remote Sensing and GIS technique for coastal and lake studies (for Master/PhD Position)

-Master/PhD Position, Malaysia, Satellite-based, remote sensing, coastal, lake studies, sea level rise, coastal vulnerability, water demand, climate change, GIS, UTM, wave energy, satellite altimeter, dam sustainability, SAR altimeter, CVI, research position,water sustainability

Master/PhD Positions are available for the following research topics. Interested applicants are encouraged to send the updated resume/CV to nurulhazrina@utm.my

1) Forecasting the Lake Water Elevation (LWE) using Satellite Radar Altimeter

For sustainable dam management, information such as lake levels is essential to understand the impact of climate change and extreme weather. Lake level is a key hydrological parameter, which is sensitive to both regional and climate variations, human disturbances and lake bathymetry changes. Water-level changes in lakes were traditionally derived from gauge data. While gauging stations can provide accurate water-level observations,
only limited gauged water-level measurements are available in remote areas, particularly in Temenggor Lake.
Temenggor Lake; located at Royal Belum Forest, is the second-largest dam in Malaysia supplying water for domestic use since 1999. Under the tropical climate conditions, the reservoir area is affected by the seasonal climate condition resulting in declining dam water level during the hot season, and flooding during the wet season. The technology of satellite altimetry has been widely used for monitoring inland waters for more than 30 years,
however, such study has yet to be conducted in Malaysia due to its’ relatively small size of lakes/rivers. Taking advantage of the recent and advanced technology of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) altimetry, the proposed project will exploit the high resolution and accurate lake level data from the Sentinel-3A satellite for forecasting the lake levels, which can help to evaluate the impact of climate change on regional water resources. This project is
related to the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are goal 6: Clean Water and
Sanitation, goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, and goal 14: Life below Water.

2) Coastal Vulnerability Assessment towards the Sea Level Rise

This project aims to hindcast and forecasts the environmental vulnerability towards the impact of climate change on the coastline of Terengganu. As the climate change indicators such as sea-level rise (SLR) and sea surface temperature (SST) are currently showing the uptrend, this study will consider the coastal characteristics and forcing, as well as the socio-economics to assess the coastal vulnerability index (CVI) using deep learning of Artificial Neural Network (ANN). With the advanced technique, a linear or non-linear relationship among those variables can be modelled to hindcast the CVI, and then forecast the future CVI for the next 50 years.
As the understanding of the extent and magnitude of climate change has improved, the need for more detailed modelling of the future impact towards environmental sustainability has become increasingly urgent. The influence of global climate change has alarmed the need to revise the beach protection criteria and mitigation plan.

Immediate Vacancy Available for Master/PhD Position With Monthly Stipend


3) A New Simplified Analytical Model for the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Altimetry to Improve Coastal Significant Wave Height

This project proposes the advancement of an algorithm for the Sentinel 3A SAR altimetry. The advancement in SAR altimetry demands a new algorithm in data processing protocol for retrieving the significant wave height (SWH). The shape of SAR returned echoes is significantly different from the “Brown-style” echoes of conventional altimetry (e.g. Jason series), so a data processing protocol called “waveform retracking” designed for the Brown-style waveform cannot be expected to work on SAR datasets unless a transformation is applied. Differ from conventional altimeters, the SAR waveforms are characterised by Doppler frequency, allowing for the formation of distinct radar-illuminated beams along the satellite track. To describe a SAR waveform, two independent variables (i.e. Doppler frequency and time delay) should be considered.

Although SAR altimetry has yielded more accurate retrievals of the SWH parameters in coastal zones, our initial studies indicate that the accuracy of parameters is not good enough for the ASEAN regions where complicated coastal topography is experienced. A new retracking algorithm had been successfully developed in our previous research (FRGS 2015-2018). Unfortunately, it only meant for the conventional altimetry, not for the SAR. In this project, a new algorithm will be developed by simplifying the analytic formula for the shape of SAR waveform under the ideal condition of a small radar mispointing angle, and then applying it to the ocean returned signals (and discard the land contamination effects).

With the new algorithm, it is expected to reduce the no-data gap much closer (<1 km) to the coastline, with accuracy as good as what it already found in the open ocean (several centimetres). The new retracker is significant in enabling accurate long term geophysical data observations, particularly in coastal oceans when combining with the previous 20 years of altimetry data.

4) Wave Energy Resource Assessment with Improved Satellite Altimetry Data over Coastal Sea

This project proposes the assessment of wave energy resources over Malaysian seas using the improved satellite altimetry data that are specialised for coastal oceans. With the emerging of coastal altimetry products enabling novel applications in coastal waters, ocean energy resources can be better quantified near coasts. Instead of the standard altimetry data, the coastal altimetry products from Jason-2/PISTACH, AltiKa/PEACHI, and the advanced Sentinel 3A and 3B in Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) modes are considered to offer a better estimation of significant wave height (SWH) over coastal oceans. The improved-SWH data are validated with respect to the limited data from Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler and wave height modelling. The total wave energy resources are computed based on the wave power and wave period extracted from the improved SWH. Subsequently, a comprehensive assessment is conducted by computing the annual wave energy density and production over Malaysia coastal sea. The findings from this study should provide a scientific advancement in term of wave knowledge in coastal seas, particularly in Malaysia. It can reduce the gap in the existing in-situ observations, and numerical wave modelling. Together with the existing datasets, coastal altimetry products can be used for better estimation of the wave climate conditions over the coastal zones.