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PhD Research Project

2013 BAS PhD Studentship - Modelling the ocean contribution to climate change on the Antarctic Peninsula

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Institution Location

Related PhDs

University of Birmingham
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Tasmania
Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies

Polar Science for Planet Earth
Dr P Holland
Dr J Pike
No more applications being accepted
Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

The Antarctic Peninsula region is changing rapidly, with dramatic sea ice loss and surface ocean warming of over 1°C in just a few decades. Glacial ice has retreated, accelerated, and thinned, contributing to sea-level rise. Southern Ocean warming is expected to continue, so it is crucial that we consider the ocean’s role in these changes. We must understand the interactions between ocean, sea ice and glaciers, complex ice-ocean feedbacks, and the fate of the meltwater that results. These processes remain poorly represented in the latest generation of climate models.

This project will complement observations by creating a detailed computer model of ocean, sea ice and glacial ice to understand key processes in the region. The model will allow examination of critical processes: the effect of sea ice retreat on ocean mixing and atmospheric forcing; increased supply of warm water from the Southern Ocean; and the origin and fate of increased freshwater input.

The student will be responsible for creating the regional model, using the latest datasets of seabed topography, atmospheric forcing, and ocean currents. They will then incorporate the transport of oxygen isotopes into the model in order to track and ‘fingerprint’ the different sources of freshwater change in the region. This will lead to significant new insight into the climate processes operating in both modern and Holocene (past 10,000 yr) environments.

The studentship is based in the Polar Oceans programme at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, a group with world-leading expertise in observing and modelling the changing Antarctic oceans. The doctorate will be awarded by Cardiff University, with the co-supervisor in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences providing expertise on climate changes of the Antarctic Peninsula over the Holocene.

Applicants should hold or expect to gain an upper-second class undergraduate degree in Physics, Mathematics, Oceanography, Meteorology, or any other numerate subject. The project will involve developing, running, and analysing a state-of-the-art ocean model on HECToR, the UK’s national supercomputing facility. No Antarctic fieldwork is required, though opportunities to join a research cruise to the Southern Ocean may arise during the project.

Funding Notes:

The studentship will last 3.5 years from October 2013. The stipend for 2012/2013 was £13,590 p.a. Eligibility restrictions apply:

Informal enquiries directed to Paul Holland ( are very welcome. To apply, please include a covering letter, CV and the e-mail addresses of two referees and send to, addressed to Paul Holland. Please quote reference BASDTG/holl/2


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