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From Greenhouse to Icehouse: Past changes in southern hemisphere vegetation and the evolution of the Antarctic ice sheet (Advert Reference: RDF19/EE/GES/SALZMANN)

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  • Full or part time
    Prof U Salzmann
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

How stable were Antarctic Ice Sheets during warm climate intervals in the past? What are the main events and processes controlling Antarctic climate and how are they related to global environmental change? The polar regions play a key role in our understanding of environmental change in a future warmer-than-present world. The past vegetation and climate of Antarctica and the evolution of its highly sensitive and dynamic ice sheet are poorly constrained by geological data. The few existing far-field data, and even fewer proximal records, indicate a major ice-sheet build-up in Antarctica from the Oligocene to the Miocene, with partial or even complete ice-sheet collapses during warm Late Cenozoic intervals with near-modern atmospheric CO2-concentrations. The onset of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) about 30 million years ago coincided with major changes in global ocean circulation and a significant decline in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration during which Antarctica transformed from a “greenhouse environment” into an ice desert. The PhD project will use fossil pollen, spores and dinoflagellates from selected marine and terrestrial records to reconstruct Cenozoic vegetation and climate. In order to fully understand the timing of the main events and processes controlling the evolution of the ACC, the project will focus on selected geological time intervals that include critical threshold in Earth’s climate evolution, such as the Eocene-Oligocene and Oligocene-Miocene transitions.

The PhD project offers excellent opportunities for research training on multi-proxy analyses and the successful candidate will be actively involved in a lively international research network, including the IODP 379 and IODP 373 expedition team and the NERC large research consortium SWEET. The project is suitable for a student with background in Geosciences and Ecology. Experience in environmental reconstruction and micropaleontology is desirable. For more information, please contact Ulrich Salzmann ([Email Address Removed]).

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF19/EE/GES/SALZMANN) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 25 January 2019
Start Date: 1 October 2019

Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Students Worldwide, and covers full fees and a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2018/19, this is £14,777 pa).


Sangiorgi, F., Bijl, P.K., Passchier, S., Salzmann U., Schouten S., McKay R., Cody, R.D., Pross, J., van der Flierdt, T., Bohaty, S, Levy, R., Williams, T., Escutia C., Brinkhuis H. (2018): Warm Southern Ocean linked to a reduced size of the East Antarctic ice sheet during the mid Miocene. Nature Communications 9, 317. doi:10.1038/s41 467-017-02609-7

Pound, M. and Salzmann, U. (2017): Heterogeneity in global vegetation and terrestrial climate change during the late Eocene to early Oligocene transition. Scientific Reports. 7, No: 43386; doi:10.1038/srep43386.

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