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Understanding the role of the ocean in climate variability

   School of Environmental Sciences

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  Prof David Thompson  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

A fully-funded PhD studentship is available on the role of the ocean in the climate system. The extent to which the ocean contributes to climate variability on year-to-year and decade-to-decade timescales remains largely unclear. One key complication is that the processes that govern the temperature of the sea-surface are not fully understood. This is important since the ocean communicates with the atmosphere through the sea-surface temperature. As part of your PhD you will explore and quantify the physical processes that govern sea-surface temperature variability across a range of time and spatial scales. The work will involve exploring the role in sea-surface temperature variability of internal atmospheric dynamics, large-scale ocean dynamics, and diffusive mixing by turbulent motions in the ocean mixed layer. You will subsequently probe the importance of these various processes for climate variability in experiments run on numerical models. Your thesis will provide new insights into a problem that has critical implications for our understanding of climate variability across the globe.

Funding Notes

This PhD studentship is funded by a Royal Society Wolfson Fellowship ( Funding comprises home tuition fees and an annual stipend of £15,609 (for a maximum of 46 months). Funding is available to UK candidates eligible for home tuition fees only (


i) Patrizio, C. R. and D. W. J. Thompson, 2021a: Quantifying the role of ocean dynamics in mixed-layer temperature variability. J. Climate, 34, 2567-2589.
ii) Wills, S. M., and D. W. J. Thompson, 2018: On the observed relationships between variability in Kuroshio-Oyashio extension sea surface temperatures and the atmospheric circulation over the North Pacific. J. Climate, 31, 4669-4681.
iii) Wills, S. M., D. W. J. Thompson, and L. M. Ciasto, 2016: On the Observed Relationships between Variability in Gulf Stream Sea Surface Temperatures and the Atmospheric Circulation in the North Atlantic. J. Climate, 29, 3719-3730.
iv) Thompson, D.W.J., J.M. Wallace, J.J. Kennedy, and P.D. Jones, 2010: An abrupt drop in Northern Hemisphere sea surface temperature around 1970. Nature, 467 444-447 doi:10.1038/nature09394.
v) Thompson, D.W.J., J.J. Kennedy, J.M. Wallace, and P.D. Jones, 2008: A large discontinuity in the mid-twentieth century in observed global-mean surface temperature. Nature, 453(29), doi:10.1038/nature06982.
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