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Extreme weather in the tropics (MATTHEWS_UENV22ARIES)

   School of Environmental Sciences

About the Project

Primary Supervisor - Professor Adrian Matthews

Secondary Supervisor - Dr Ben Webber (ENV, UEA)

Supervisory Team - Dr Juliane Schwendike (School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds

Scientific background

Extreme weather in the tropics, particularly in the form of heavy rainfall and strong winds, can destroy the lives and livelihoods of the local population through flooding, landslides and impacts on agriculture and local infrastructure. Such extreme weather in the tropics is primarily controlled by large scale weather patterns such as convectively coupled equatorial Kelvin waves (Figure 1), the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) or El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Although the broad features of these tropical weather patterns are known, their impact on extreme weather is not; this represents a major gap in our understanding of tropical weather.

Research methodology

You will determine the effect of tropical weather patterns on extreme weather using a combination of observational analysis, fieldwork and numerical modelling. Initially, this will involve analysis of state-of-the-art satellite data sets that measure rainfall every 30 minutes across the whole planet and wind, temperature and other variables every hour. You will then analyse model forecast data from the UK Met Office available through the FORSEA (Forecasting in Southeast Asia) project, and conduct sets of experiments with a state-of-the-art atmospheric model to determine what factors generate and influence these tropical waves.

Training and research environment

You will join an active research group at UEA in tropical meteorology and climate. You will be trained in meteorological and climate theory, and in meteorological analysis of very large data sets, and computer modelling of weather and climate. You will have the opportunity to present your work at national and international conferences. There will also be an opportunity to take part in the international TerraMaris field campaign in Indonesia and Christmas Island, Australia, in 2023, led by Prof. Adrian Matthews at UEA, with partners at University of Reading and Leeds, the UK Met Office, and Indonesian agencies.

Person specification

We seek an enthusiastic, pro-active student with strong scientific interests and self-motivation. You will have a degree in physics, mathematics, meteorology, oceanography or environmental science with good numerical ability.

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please visit the UEA website

The start date is 1 October 2022

Funding Notes

This project is funded by ARIES NERC DTP and will start on 1st October 2022.

Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship covering fees, stipend (£15,609 p.a. for 2021-22) and research funding. International applicants (EU and non-EU) are eligible for fully-funded UKRI studentships.

ARIES students benefit from bespoke graduate training and £2,500 for external training, travel and conferences.

ARIES is committed to equality, diversity, widening participation and inclusion. Academic qualifications are considered alongside non-academic experience. Our recruitment process considers potential with the same weighting as past experience.

For information and full eligibility visit View Website


1) Da Silva NA, Matthews AJ, 2021: Impact of the Madden-Julian oscillation on extreme precipitation over the western Maritime Continent and Southeast Asia. Quart. J. Roy. Meteorol. Soc., 147, 3434-3453, doi: 10.1002/qj.4136.
2) Da Silva NA, Webber BGM, Matthews AJ, Feist MM, Stein THM, Holloway CE, Abdullah MFAB, 2021: Validation of GPM IMERG extreme precipitation in the Maritime Continent by station and radar data. Earth Space Sci., 8, e2021EA001738, doi: 10.1029/2021EA001738.
3) Matthews AJ, Pickup G, Peatman SC, Clews P, Martin J, 2013: The effect of the Madden-Julian Oscillation on station rainfall and river level in the Fly River system, Papua New Guinea. J. Geophys. Res., 118, 10926-10935.
4) Baranowski DB, Flatau MK, Flatau PJ, Karnawati D, Barabasz K, Labuz M, Latos B, Schmidt JM, Paski JAI, Marzuki, 2020: Social-media and newspaper reports reveal large-scale meteorological drivers of floods on Sumatra. Nature Communicat., 11, 2503 , doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-16171-2.
5) Baranowski DB, Flatau MK, Flatau PJ, Matthews AJ, 2016: Phase locking between atmospheric convectively coupled equatorial Kelvin waves and the diurnal cycle of precipitation over the Maritime Continent. Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 8269-8276, doi: 10.1002/2016GL069602.

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