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Modelling ice shelf collapse in Antarctica (Advert Reference: RDF19/EE/GES/DE RYDT)

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

Project Description

The Antarctic Ice Sheet is one of the largest contributors to global sea level change and its contribution may increase sharply in the near future. It is therefore of considerable importance to quantify ongoing changes, to understand how these changes are driven by external factors, and to improve predictions of the future impacts on sea level.

The catastrophic collapse of several ice shelves in Antarctica between 1995 and 2002 has been a pivotal moment in the ice sheet’s contemporary history. Most recently, the Larsen B Ice Shelf disintegrated over the course of a few weeks in 2002, turning 3500 km2 of previously ice-covered waters into open ocean. This event highlighted the potential for sudden and rapid change, and the subsequent speed-up of the tributary glaciers demonstrated the importance of ice shelves for the stability of the entire ice sheet. To date, however, only limited numerical modelling work has been conducted on the impact of collapsing ice shelves on glacier dynamics, and it still remains to be demonstrated that numerical ice-sheet models can correctly describe the ensuing changes to continental glacier flow.

In this project you will work with a world-leading group of ice modellers at Northumbria University to advance our understanding of these important processes, and to test and improve the predictive skill of ice flow models. You will have access to a unique 30-year record of remote sensing data from the Larsen B area, covering the time periods both before and after the ice shelf collapse. Using state-of-the art numerical flow models, you will make projections for the impact of the collapse on sea level, and model results will be verified against data. Your contribution will be relevant for Antarctica-wide changes, guide future model improvements, and will help refine our understanding of future sea level evolution.

If you have strong numerical skills and a good background in physics, environmental sciences and programming, this project is well suited for you. An undergraduate or MSc degree in physics, mathematics or environmental sciences is essential. Please contact [Email Address Removed] for further information.

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/DE RYDT) 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).


J. De Rydt, G. H. Gudmundsson, H. Rott, J. L. Bamber, ‘Modeling the instantaneous response of glaciers after the collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf’, Geophysical Research Letters, 42 (13), 5355-5363 (2015)

G. H. Gudmundsson, J. De Rydt, T. Nagler, ‘Five decades of strong temporal variability in the flow of Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica’, Journal of Glaciology, 63 (237), 164-175 (2017)

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