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The role of tides in shaping Antarctic climate variability

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 03, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Project Rationale:

The melting of the Antarctic ice-sheet is one of the most alarming consequences of climate change. Antarctica’s contribution to global sea-level rise over the 21st century and beyond remains highly uncertain, and has the potential to induce high-end rates of sea-level rise (>1 m by 2100) – which will significantly impact coastal populations around the world. The contribution of astronomical tides to the stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet has received very little attention to date. However, recent studies have shown that tides can play a significant role in shaping melting rates in the region. For example, Stewart et al. (2019) suggest that tides play an important role in influencing the Antarctic Slope Current, and therefore the oceanic delivery of heat to the Antarctic ice shelves. In addition, Padman et al. (2018) highlight the important role of tides in causing ice-sheet instability. Thus, understanding the role and variability (e.g., monthly, seasonal and long-term variations) of tides in and around Antarctica is a key step to quantifying the region’s future contribution to global sea level rise.


The overall aim of this project is to understand how the intra- and inter-annual variability of tides around Antarctica influences: (1) the exchange of heat across the Antarctic shelf break; and (2) ice-sheet instability. The first objective is to improve understanding of tidal propagation and dynamics in the near-vicinity of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. The second objective is to assess intra- and inter-annual variability in tides around Antarctica, both in the past and potential future scenarios, due to sea level-rise, regional climate modes and changes in ice-sheet geometry. The third objective is to determine feedbacks between changes in tides and the strength of the Antarctic Slope Current (which, among other things, regulates the exchange of heat across the Antarctic shelf break) and ice-sheet instabilities. To do this, the student will utilize tide gauge data from the region, novel along-track altimetry data from ice-covered regions, and state-of-the art dynamic models.


The INSPIRE DTP programme provides comprehensive personal and professional development training alongside extensive opportunities for students to expand their multi-disciplinary outlook through interactions with a wide network of academic, research and industrial/policy partners. The student will be registered at the University of Southampton and hosted at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. Specific training, provided by the supervisory team will include: programming; super-computing; statistical analysis of tide gauge and altimetry records, and configuration and validation of ocean models. The student will also have opportunities to attend modules in ocean physics; present research results in international conferences; and participate in a research cruise to the Southern Ocean.

Funding Notes

You can apply for fully-funded studentships (stipend and fees) from INSPIRE if you:
Are a UK or EU national.
Have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
Have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the project.

Please click View Website for more information on eligibility and how to apply


Padman, L., Siegfried, M.R. & Fricker, H.A. (2018). Ocean tide influences on the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. Reviews of Geophysics, 56, 142– 184.

Stewart, A.L., Klocker, A., Menemenlis, D. (2019). Acceleration and overturning of the Antarctic Slope Current by winds, eddies, and tides. In press JPO.

Haigh, I.D., et al. (2019). The Tides They Are a-Changin’: A comprehensive review of past and future non-astronomical changes in tides, their driving mechanisms and future implications. In review Reviews of Geophysics.

Related Subjects

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 68.62

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

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