Simiao Sun

Simiao Sun

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Simiao is currently undertaking a PhD project entitled: Transient Water Table Influence upon Light Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (LNAPLs) Redistribution, which is co-supervised by Dr Mike Rivett and Dr Alan Herbert at University of Birmingham. 

Light Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (LNAPLs), notably including petroleum hydrocarbon fuels and oils, are one of the most common pollutants in shallow aquifer. LNAPLs will float on the water table or be retained in residual saturation in the pore spaces of the aquifer and their slow dissolution into groundwater causes them to be very persistent sources of contamination. 

Groundwater table fluctuations may lead to LNAPL redistribution and smearing above and below the water table which may influence the timeframes over which they may persist. Fluctuating water table conditions have been shown to enhance the distribution (entrapment and smearing) and transport of LNAPLs. Effective remediation strategies rely on understanding both LNAPL distribution and migration. 

This in progress laboratory-and-modelling-based study aims:

  1. To build an experimental platform to accommodate 2D NAPL distribution laboratory studies which allows greater, safer and more accurate control over the scenarios.
  2. To produce original datasets on LNAPL redistribution via 2D experiments to discern the influences of transient water table fluctuations as well as other factors.
  3. To develop and validate appropriate numerical models to help inform on LNAPL fate, monitoring aspects as well as evaluate contamination risks for LNAPL spillages. 


  • 2009-2012 MSc (Hons) in Hydrogeology and Water Resources, Heilongjiang University, China - Research area: Soil water movement in unsaturated zone in seasonally frozen grounds
  • 2005-2009 BSc (Hons) in Hydraulic and Hydro-power Engineering, Heilongjiang University, China


Simiao obtained her first degree in Hydraulic Engineering in Heilongjiang University in China. That was followed by a Master’s Degree in Hydrogeology and Water Resources at the same institution. 

Her dissertation research concerned the influences of cold environments (seasonally frozen grounds) upon groundwater flooding. Then Simiao was successful in gaining the Lisiguang Scholarship, a UoB and CSC (China Scholar Council) joint-funded doctoral research at University of Birmingham.

Major awards

  • 2009, 2nd Prize of National Contest of Innovative Design in Water Sciences (A Physical Model of the Runoff Yield and Conflux of a Typical Catchment), 1st author;
  • 2010, Excellent Paper Award for Young Scientists of the 8th China Water Forum;
  • 2013, 2nd Place Poster Prize for “What’s new in Hydrogeology ”poster conference in Leeds  convened by the Hydrogeological Group of the UGS and the IAH


Research interests

LNAPL behaviour in groundwater, groundwater modelling and laboratory study

Research group

Water Sciences- Hydrogeology

Other activities

In Birmingham, Simiao has been a postgraduate ambassador for University Graduate Recruitment since 2013 and she has always been passionate towards and active in education. She started to volunteer in helping students with academic pursuits since 2009. 

In China, she was a demonstrator in Principles of Hydrogeology, Professional English for Water Sciences, field skills and so on. She was also a coordinator of 4 Annual Conferences on Water in Cold Region from 2009-2012 along with other research seminars. 


Poster and presentation

Simiao Sun, Michael O. Rivett, Alan W. Herbert. Transient Water Table Influence upon Light Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid (LNAPL) Redistribution: Experimental Setup. Poster Presented at “What is New in Hydrogeology?” Research Poster Meeting, 6th November 2013, University of Leeds. (Poster)

Simiao Sun, Michael O. Rivett, Alan W. Herbert. Transient Water Table Influence upon Light Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (LNAPLs) Redistribution: Laboratory and Modelling Studies. Poster Presented at RGS-IBG Postgraduate Mid-Term Conference, 26th March 2013, University of Birmingham. (Poster)

Simiao Sun, Changlei DAI. Modelling Study on the Influences of Low Temperature on Groundwater Flooding 

--- Based on case study in the upstream areas of Dadingzishan Reservoir in Northeast China, presentation at RGS-IBG Postgraduate Mid-Term Conference, 26th March 2013, University of Birmingham. (Presentation)

Book chapter

Changlei DAI, Simiao SUN, Xinqiang DU, Zhongpei LIU, Peng LI, Ning JIANG. Introduction of Professional English for Water Sciences. China Water and Power Press. 2013 (ISBN:9787517015406)


Simiao SUN, DAI Changlei, Hou-chu LIAO, Di-fang XIAO. A Conceptual Model of Soil Moisture Movement in Seasonal Frozen Unsaturated Zone[A].2011 International Conference on Civil Engineering and Transportation (ICCET 2011).2011,2612-2618. 

Simiao SUN, Changlei DAI, Chunli LIU, Liqing LIANG. Prediction of Groundwater Inundation Based on GMS---with Example of Inundation-affected Areas in Upstream of Dadingzishan Reservoir. Advanced Materials Research, 550-553, 2580. 

Simiao SUN, Changlei DAI, Qiao SUN. Influencing Factors and Characteristics of River-Bank Type Reservoir Inundation in Cold Regions. The proceeding of 4th Conference on Water in Cold Region (CWCR 2011). 2011:25-29.

Simiao SUN, Changlei DAI, Chunli LIU. Investigation and Evaluation Method on Groundwater Flooding Disaster---Case study: the Inundation-affected Areas on the Upstream Side of Dadingzishan Reservoir. Yangtze River, 2012, (9):21-25. 

Simiao SUN, DAI Changlei, Ya-jie LUI. Influencing Factors and Characteristics of River-bank Type Reservoir Inundation in Cold Regions. Water Resources and Power, 2012, vol.30(4):42-96. 

Simiao SUN, DAI Changlei, Wei-wei Guo. Prediction and analysis on total controlled water demand in Jiamusi. Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering, 2012, vol.43(1):21-26. 

Simiao SUN, DAI Changlei. An overview of Research on Groundwater Inundation in China. Yellow River, 2011,vol.33(S2):48-50. 

Simiao SUN, DAI Changlei, Zhi-jun LI, Shu-qin GAO. Numerical Simulation Evaluation on Groundwater Submergence of Dadingzishan Reservoir on Songhua River. Advances in Science and Technology of Water Resources,2011,31(S1):26-29. 

Simiao SUN, DAI Changlei, Wei-zheng CAO, Jia-nan GUAN. Relation between Snowmelt Runoff and Precipitation in Spring in Cold Area, with the Example of Liushu River. The proceeding of 8th China Water Forum,2010:255-259.