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Working with CUROP students on climate change and extreme rainfalls

25 Hydref 2018


An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Water Research Institute collaborated on climate change and extreme rainfalls with this year's CUROP students.

Every year, Cardiff Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (CUROP) offers students the possibility to take part in a summer placement within any of Cardiff University’s schools to contribute to the development of existing research projects. It is a great opportunity for them to sample live research, improve their academic skills and make a more informed decision on furthering their research at postgraduate level.

Last summer, Aidan Gibbons and Owain Griffiths, two undergraduate students in Mathematics, spent eight weeks supporting the work of an interdisciplinary group of researchers from the Water Research Institute on the issue of high-intensity rainfall events caused by climate change.

Aidan Gibbons was supervised by Dr Marie Ekstrom, from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and by Professor Owen Jones and Dr Kirstin Strokorb from the School of Mathematics. During his placement, he developed a set of exploratory software tools that can be used to study temporal trends and spatial clustering in the behaviour of extreme rainfall events. Aidan will continue his project and analyse how various factors play a role in the extremal behaviour of rainfall events.

Aidan said: “I really enjoyed my CUROP experience. The project itself was challenging and we faced many issues along the way, but that was a good thing as it really provided me with the opportunity to learn how to deal with these sort of real-world research problems.”

In a second project, Owain Griffiths worked with Dr Michael Singer on the impact of a changing climate on the intensity of storms. Owain said:“Throughout our 8 weeks, we gathered data for rainfall events across the US, and spent a lot of time exploring the different ways we could analyse this data to better understand how climate change impacts storms.

He added: “The project gave me an insight into how I can apply my studies outside the classroom and...[what] postgraduate studies might look like.”

CUROP students also provide useful assistance to researchers as they contribute significantly to the initiation and progression of research projects over the summer.

Dr Michael Singer said: “I enjoyed working with Owain and getting him to escape his mental focus on mathematics to envision some other possible paths to travel on with his skill set.

We had to develop a common language and then create a set of methods that appealed to his mathematical mind, while also remaining faithful to the climatic components of the problem. We made good progress and this work should have legs in the form of a future publication.

Yr Athro Michael Singer Lecturer in Physical Geography

The Water Research Institute and its affiliated researchers are looking forward to supervising more CUROP students in the years to come.

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