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ONEPlanet DTP - Impacts of climatic change on Antarctic subglacial lakes (OP2111)


Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering

About the Project

Subglacial lakes are bodies of water located underneath glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets. Beneath the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, water accumulates in ice-covered subglacial lakes. Subglacial lakes can be very dynamic and are often interconnected by subglacial rivers. Their presence can accelerate ice sheet flow, with implications for ice sheet dynamics. Given their unique environmental conditions, subglacial lakes are also likely to be distinct ecosystems harbouring specialised microbial life. In a subglacial lake, ice melting occurs through friction-generated heat or as a result of geothermal fluxes. Lake circulation is controlled by hydrological discharge, melting and freezing (e.g. at the ice-water interface), ice motion, and the topography of the bedrock and the lake cavity. In a warming world, the Antarctic Ice Sheet is expected to become more like Greenland, with abundant surface meltwater reaching the ice sheet bed and subglacial lakes. This is likely to affect ice-lake interactions and therefore lake water circulation, with feedback implications for the ice sheet and for lake ecosystems.
In this project, we will create a three-dimensional model of the circulation in a subglacial lake, including all relevant dynamic and thermodynamic processes. The student will use this model to investigate the glaciological and ecosystem implications of Antarctic subglacial lakes in a warmer world. The student will be trained in numerical modelling, oceanography and glaciology, programming (Fortran, MATLAB and Python) and scripting.

Funding Notes

Each of our studentship awards include 3.5 years of fees (Home/EU), an annual living allowance (£15,285) and a Research Training Support Grant (for travel, consumables, as required).

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