4th November 2010
AXA scholarship for PhD student’s Antarctic research
Swansea University Geography student Alison Cook has been awarded an AXA Research Fund Doctoral Fellowship Scholarship, for her PhD research into climate change in the Antarctic Peninsula.
The scholarship from the global financial protection group is worth more than Euro €120K (more than £100K) over three years. It is awarded for truly innovative research projects, as part of AXA’s ambitious international scientific sponsorship initiative.
Alison’s research, which got underway last month, is entitled Changes in Glacier and Ice Shelf Extents in a climate warming hot-spot – the Antarctic Peninsula.
Her work will seek to provide urgently needed understanding of the response of the Antarctic Peninsula glaciers to strong regional warming in one of the planet’s “climate warming hot-spots”, as well as estimation of the contribution of these glaciers to sea-level rise.
It will contribute to a greater understanding of the causes of coastal change and consequences of atmospheric warming around the Antarctic Peninsula and should provide a basis for predicting climate change over the next century in this sensitive region.
Alison, aged 33, from Dollar in central Scotland said: "The AXA Research Fund receives a very high number of applications from all over the world for these scholarships. The selection process was highly competitive and I am thrilled to have been successful in securing this funding for my PhD work at Swansea.
“The Scholarship will enable me to fill the knowledge gap concerning the extensive glaciers in the Antarctic Peninsula that are retreating rapidly and contributing to sea-level rise. We need to understand the processes controlling the changes in their extent, so as part of my research I will study satellite images and aerial photographs that span the past 50 years and investigate spatial patterns of change over this time period.
“Analysing changes in geometry and dynamics of the glaciers, alongside meteorological and ocean temperature records will help us to determine the main drivers of glacial retreat.
“Once I have completed my research, I hope the results will be of key importance in predicting sea-level rise from the Antarctic Peninsula region, which is thought to be one of the largest contributors to current sea-level rise.”
Alison’s PhD supervisor Professor Tavi Murray, Head of the Glaciology Group in the University’s School of the Environment and Society, said: “We recognised Alison as an unusually talented student as soon as we received her application, as she had already published her work in Science, which is one of the top journals internationally.
“We encouraged Alison to apply for the AXA Scholarship and we are delighted that she has won this prestigious award. The work that she will undertake will contribute to improving future assessments of sea-level rise.”
The AXA Research Fund was created in 2008 to encourage scientific research that would contribute to understanding and preventing environmental, life, and socio-economic risks. The Fund supports world class research in these areas by providing institutions with the means of attracting and retaining the leading scientists of today and of the next generation.