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Understanding Changes in Monsoon Rainfall and Circulation, Mathematics/Climate Change – PhD (Funded)

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  • Full or part time
    Prof M Collins
    Dr H Lambert
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Dr Rob Chadwick, Met Office
Dr Chris Taylor, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology


Mathematics, Exeter

The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, in partnership with the Met Office and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,009 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. A Met Office CASE award will provide an additional top up of £1,000 per year (also pro rata). The student would be based in Mathematics in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.

Project Description:

Future changes in tropical precipitation have the potential to produce some of the most severe impacts of climate change. This is particularly true in monsoon regions - over two billion people in Asia alone are dependent on monsoon rainfall. Unfortunately, current projections of regional precipitation changes in the tropics are very uncertain across models, inhibiting adaptation planning and providing major challenges for the detection and attribution of observed tropical precipitation trends.
Dynamical shifts in the location of convection have been identified as the primary driver of precipitation change in monsoon regions. However, different monsoons respond in diverse ways, with for example India generally projected to get wetter but the North American monsoon region getting drier. This suggests that the balance of processes driving rainfall change differs between the various monsoon regions. Furthermore, model biases in simulating present-day monsoons imply reduced confidence in projections.
In order to reduce uncertainty in projections, it is first necessary to improve our understanding of which processes are most important in each region and to quantify the role of model biases. This can lead to emergent constraints.

A new set of experiments (co-ordinated by co-supervisor Chadwick), designed to isolate the influence of different aspects of CO2 forcing on regional climate change, is included in the forthcoming set of CMIP6 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 6 experiments). These will show the balance between the effects of uniform SST warming, patterned SST warming, direct CO2 radiative absorption, the plant physiological response to CO2, and sea-ice changes, for each model and region. Changes in mean climate, seasonality, and daily-scale rainfall will all be examined. The main research questions are:

1) Which aspects of CO2 forcing are most important for driving precipitation and circulation changes in each monsoon region, both for the CMIP6 ensemble mean and inter-model uncertainty?
2) Once the dominant processes are understood, can present-day observations be used to provide emergent constraints on monsoon projections?
3) How do present-day SST biases affect CMIP6 projections of water cycle change in monsoon regions?

This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. For students who pay UK/EU tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £15,009 per year tax-free stipend. The Met Office will provide a CASE award of an additional £1,000 per year. Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend.

The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3.5 years of full-time study to commence in September 2019. The collaboration with the named project partner is subject to contract. Please note full details of the project partner’s contribution and involvement with the project is still to be confirmed and may change during the course of contract negotiations. Full details will be confirmed at offer stage.
The studentship will cover a stipend at the minimum Research Council rate, £15,009 in 2019/20, research costs and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for students who meet the residency requirements outlined by the UKRI. Students from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award but no stipend. Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding. Further information about eligibility can be found here.

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