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Modelling aerosols and clouds over the Southern Ocean

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Laura Revell
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Clouds and aerosols have a significant effect on the climate system, yet are notoriously difficult to simulate in Earth system models. Present-day models simulate large biases in clouds and aerosols over the Southern Ocean. These biases cascade to biases in radiation, sea surface temperature and storm tracks in the Southern Hemisphere – and ultimately to simulated rainfall and extreme weather events in New Zealand. Aerosols over the Southern Ocean are mostly comprised of sea salt, sulfate and marine organics. Depending on composition and size, aerosols can activate to cloud condensation nuclei and seed cloud formation. Our previous research has shown that aerosols and cloud microphysics are sensitive to the choice of sulfate chemistry scheme and sea salt aerosol parameterisation.

We are seeking a PhD student to work on improving the representation of aerosols and cloud microphysics in the New Zealand Earth System Model, which is based on the UK United Model. The successful candidate will hold a Masters degree in physics, chemistry, mathematics or a related discipline e.g. environmental science. Strong written and verbal communication skills in English are essential, and prior programming experience is highly desirable. Previous experience e.g. using Python and/or Fortran will be advantageous.

This studentship is fully funded and will be jointly supported by Dr Laura Revell (see and Professor Adrian McDonald at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. The successful candidate will be based in the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences, who offer a friendly and supportive environment and are housed in a brand-new purpose-built research facility. This project will provide opportunities to travel nationally and internationally, and work with a team of climate modellers based at the University of Canterbury, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research and UK Met Office.

Christchurch is a vibrant city and the gateway to the South Island, with beaches, hills and the Southern Alps in close proximity.

To apply, please submit the following:
- Cover letter
- CV describing previous research experience and programming experience.
- Academic transcript
- Evidence of proficiency in English, if applying from outside New Zealand (see
- Contact details of two academic referees

Funding Notes

Value: NZ$21,000 per annum, plus tuition fees covered
Tenure: 3 years

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