SMART is a laboratory-based EMJD that aims to develop a reference approach in the area of River Science that is attractive to both EU and third country citizens and can contribute to the mutual enrichment of societies in the long run. SMART’s overall objective is to train scientists to develop and adopt integrated multidisciplinary approaches to the sustainable rehabilitation and maintenance of river corridor ecosystems, particularly in alpine, humid temperate and mediterranean environments (Figure 1). To achieve this objective, SMART structures cooperation between leading research and higher education institutions in the relevant science specialisms (hydrology, hydraulics, geomorphology and ecology) at a European level. The SMART EMJD couples this international, multidisciplinary and attractive research environment with the transversal and specific skills training necessary to develop the abilities of Doctoral Candidates to think globally and co-work in multidisciplinary research teams and so deliver “new skills for new jobs”. In particular SMART emphasises three multidisciplinary research areas that support specific objectives and offer each Doctoral Candidate a challenging context for their research project:
Research Area A: To advance relevant scientific knowledge of the resilience of river-floodplain ecosystems to both natural and human induced changes in hydrological connectivity and other stressors (e.g. extremes and annual regimes of climate, flow, water temperature, sediment, water quality; channel engineering).
Research Area B: To focus on the central linkage between physical processes and biota within river corridor ecosystems: ecosystem engineering by plants within different physical settings (i.e. feedbacks between water, sediment, vegetation) that drives river morphodynamics, fundamentally influencing the potential of fluvial systems to self regulate and attain good ecological quality in both ‘reference’ and ‘impacted’ situations.
Research Area C: To evaluate the potential to support or rehabilitate desired river system functions in impacted systems (e.g. land use, hydropower, urban development, flow-tidal interactions).
Figure 1: The research areas encompassed by SMART (triangle) in relation to the multidisciplinary science areas (bottom), experimental facilities (top left) and instrumented field research sites (top right) that underpin this EMJD.