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EPSRC DTP PhD project: The acoustics of climate change – Long-term observations in the Arctic oceans


   Department of Physics

   Sunday, February 05, 2023  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The University of Bath is inviting applications for the following PhD project commencing in October 2023 under the supervision of Dr Philippe Blondel in the Department of Physics.

Eligible applicants will be considered for a fully-funded studentship – for more information, see the Funding Notes section below.

Overview of the Research:

Climate change is amplified in the Arctic seas, with less ice, more wind and storms, increasing impacts from human activities like shipping or offshore construction, and warmer waters affecting the local ecosystems. Changes in the Arctic affect the weather systems of regions further south, from Europe to Asia, Local communities are also directly affected by changes in fishing resources, ice routes, coastal erosion and illegal fishing/resource extraction. These changes to marine environments can be directly measured with underwater acoustics, providing baselines, comparing impacts as climate change progresses and informing mitigation and adaptation by users of the Arctic seas.

We will use data from different Arctic areas: a community observatory in a shallow bay (from our long-term collaboration with Ocean Networks Canada); deep-sea moorings north of Alaska (shared by NOAA) and upcoming measurements across the Arctic from our EU project HiAOOS (High Arctic Ocean Observation Systems), starting January 2023. Arctic underwater soundscapes are extremely complex and there are still many unknowns, from acoustic wave propagation in highly variable environments to correct identification of acoustic signatures in Big Data. This interdisciplinary PhD project will combine innovative approaches (like Machine Learning and AI) with acoustical physics (using existing models of wave propagation, adapting them to typical Arctic conditions) and oceanography/bioacoustics to answer urgent questions like:

  • How do underwater soundscapes vary across Arctic environments? What are the key frequencies to monitor and why?
  • How does climate change affect these Arctic environments? Having access to years of data, we can quantify these changes and ascribe them to specific processes (e.g. ice cover in a particular region, displacement of a particular fish species, increased shipping in some areas);
  • As Arctic seas become more accessible, human impacts will increase, but how? Can they be mitigated or de-risked?
  • How can underwater acoustics address the priorities of local communities and other Arctic users (e.g. shipping operators, policy regulators)?

We have the necessary open-source software and many years of Arctic experience, including in the field. We contribute to international standards in underwater acoustics (British Standards/ISO). The supervisor also chairs the International Quiet Ocean Experiment working group on Arctic acoustics.

Project keywords: acoustics – signal processing – wave propagation in complex media – bioacoustics – Arctic – climate change

Candidate Requirements:

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent) in Physics or a relevant discipline. A master’s level qualification or equivalent professional experience would also be advantageous.

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement.

Enquiries and Applications:

Applicants are encouraged to contact Dr Philippe Blondel on email address  before applying to find out more about the project and to discuss their suitability for the role.

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Physics.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.

Note: Applications may close earlier than the advertised deadline if a suitable candidate is found. We therefore recommend that you contact the lead supervisor prior to applying and submit your formal application as early as possible.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion:

We value a diverse research environment and aim to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We welcome and encourage applications from under-represented groups.

If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.


Funding Notes

Candidates applying for this project may be considered for a 3.5-year Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC DTP) studentship. Funding covers tuition fees, a stipend (£17,668 per annum, 2022/23 rate) and research/training expenses (£1,000 per annum). EPSRC DTP studentships are open to both Home and International students; however, in line with guidance from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the number of awards available to International candidates will be limited to 30% of the total.

References

• Garibbo, S., Ph. Blondel, G. Heald, R. Heyburn, A. Hunter, D. Williams; “Characterising and detecting fin whale calls using deep learning at the Lofoten-Vesterålen Observatory, Norway”, POMA, doi: 10.1121/2.0001488, 2021
• Ph. Blondel, B. Dell, C. Suriyaprakaram; “Acoustic Signatures of Shipping, Weather and Marine Life: Comparison of NE Pacific and Arctic Soundscapes”. POMA; https://doi.org/10.1121/2.0001312, 2020
• Garrett, J., Ph. Blondel, B. Godley, S.K. Pikesley, M.J. Witt, L. Johanning, “Long term underwater sound measurements in the shipping noise indicator bands 63 Hz and 125 Hz from the port of Falmouth Bay, UK”, Marine Pollution Bulletin, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.06.021, 2016
• Glowacki, O., G.B. Deane, M. Moskalik, Ph. Blondel, J. Tegowski, M. Blaszczyk; “Underwater acoustic signatures of glacier calving”, Geophysical Research Letters, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2014GL062859, 2015
• Merchant, N.D., K.M. Fristrup, M.P. Johnson, P.L. Tyack, M.J. Witt, Ph. Blondel, S.E. Parks; “Measuring acoustic habitats”, Methods in Ecology and Evolution, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.12330, 2015

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