Wellcome Trust Featured PhD Programmes
University of Exeter Featured PhD Programmes
University College London Featured PhD Programmes
University College London Featured PhD Programmes
University of East Anglia Featured PhD Programmes

Pliocene sea level constraints for future sea level rise

Project Description

Project keyword: Climate Science

Project Background

Retreat of the Antarctic Ice Sheet due to polar warming remains the largest source of uncertainty for future sea level projections, hampering planning efforts and mitigation of sea level rise. This project will use a combined paleo-data-modelling approach to constrain Antarctic ice sheet response to changing climate. Specifically, you will use foraminiferal geochemical proxies to constrain global changes in total ice volume through Pliocene orbital cycles. You will apply modelling techniques to interpret these global signals in terms of the sensitivity of the Antarctic ice sheet to insolation and greenhouse gas forcing. Your results will have relevance to future sea level predictions.

Project Aims and Methods
A primary aim of this project is to quantify the range in global ice volume across Pliocene glacial-interglacial cycles, associated with changing pCO2 and orbitally-driven changes in insolation. You will achieve this by constructing high resolution orbital-scale foraminiferal Mg/Ca and 18O records from a range of carefully chosen deep sea sites. These two proxies will be used together to calculate changes in deep sea temperature and the oxygen isotopic composition of seawater (a measure of global ice volume) through orbital cycles. Focussing on orbital scale variability in ice volume circumvents the need to constrain long-term changes in seawater Mg/Ca, which only impacts absolute temperature estimates. High amplitude ice volume variability would imply a dynamic Antarctic ice sheet with a high sensitivity to climate change, whereas low amplitude ice volume variability would imply a relatively stable Antarctic ice sheet. You will spend ~6 months (flexible to suit your needs and choice of research direction) at the University of Bristol using a numerical ice sheet model to interpret your records in a quantitative framework, to evaluate the sensitivity of the Antarctic ice sheet to changing climate. You will explore the relevance of your results in the context of our currently warming planet.

Candidate Requirements
This project would suit a candidate interested in big Earth System Science questions. Training will be provided but a willingness to learn chemical and analytical procedures is essential. Although prior experience of programming would be desirable, relevant training will be provided.

You will be trained in foraminiferal taxonomy, geochemical analytical techniques, and numerical modelling. You will also receive training in transferable skills such as project planning, scientific writing, and oral presentations. You will be part of a dynamic research group and will present your research findings at an overseas international conference.


UK Research Council eligibility conditions apply
Open to UK and EU students. All EU applicants must have been ordinarily resident in the EU for at least 3 years prior to the start of their proposed programme of study.
Applicants from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award.

How to apply:

You should submit an application for postgraduate study via the Cardiff University Online Application Service, including:

an upload of your CV
a personal statement/covering letter
two references (applicants are recommended to have a third academic referee, if the two academic referees are within the same department/school)
current academic transcripts.

You should apply to the Doctor of Philosophy in Earth and Ocean Sciences with a start date of October 2020.

In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select ’I will be applying for a scholarship/grant’ and specify that you are applying for advertised funding from NERC GW4+ DTP.

If you wish to apply for more than one project please email .

The deadline for applications is 16:00 on 6 January 2020.

Shortlisting for interview will be conducted by 31 January 2020.

Shortlisted candidates will then be invited to an institutional interview. Interviews will be held in Cardiff University between 10 February and 21 February 2020.

Funding Notes

Full UK/EU tuition fees

Doctoral stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum
Additional funding to the value £11,000 is available over the course of the programme for conference attendance, fieldwork allowance, travel allowance and other project costs. A further £3,250 is available in the form of as a training credits over the course of the programme for specialist training courses and/or opportunities (plus £750 ringfenced for travel and accommodation on compulsory cohort events).
Residency eligibility applies. Please contact us for further details.


1. Lear, C. H., Coxall, H.K., Foster, G.L., Lunt, D.J., Mawbey, E.M., Rosenthal, Y., Sosdian, S.M., Thomas, E., and Wilson, P.A., (2015), Neogene ice volume and ocean temperatures: Insights from infaunal foraminiferal Mg/Ca paleothermometry, Paleoceanography, 30, doi:10.1002/ 2015PA002833.
2. DeConto, R.M., and Pollard, D., (2016) Contribution of Antarctica to past and future sea-level rise, Nature, 531, pp.592.
3. Dutton, A., Carlson, A.E., Long,A.J., Milne, G.A., Clark, P.U., DeConto, R., Horton, B., Rahmstorf, S., Raymo, M.E., (2015) Sea-level rise due to polar ice-sheet mass loss during past warm periods, Science, 349, pp. 153.
4. Gasson, E., DeConto, R., Pollard, D., Levy, R., (2016) Dynamic Antarctic ice sheet during the early to mid-Miocene, PNAS, www. pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1516130113

Related Subjects

How good is research at Cardiff University in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 14.99

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

Email Now

Insert previous message below for editing? 
You haven’t included a message. Providing a specific message means universities will take your enquiry more seriously and helps them provide the information you need.
Why not add a message here
* required field
Send a copy to me for my own records.

Your enquiry has been emailed successfully

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2019
All rights reserved.