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Using ocean tides as a natural experiment to learn about ice sheet dynamics (Ref: OP19_55)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, January 31, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The contribution of the Antarctic Ice Sheet to future sea level rise remains a large source of uncertainty, despite potentially dramatic and far reaching impacts. This is due in large part to our lack of understanding of critical processes which determine the rate of ice loss, such as basal motion and ice rheology. Laboratory experiments on ice and direct observations of sediment beneath the ice sheet can provide some information but not necessarily at the correct spatial scale. An alternative approach is to use the response of the ice sheet to tides as a natural experiment to gain insights into these crucial gaps in our knowledge.

Ocean tides cause large perturbations in ice flow which can be transmitted far inland and induce a response at a completely different frequency to the tides themselves. Trying to replicate these observations with models can teach us a lot about important processes operating at a scale relevant to large scale ice sheet dynamics.

This research topic is currently wide open, with large amounts of data and many unanswered questions, and consequently there will be a lot of freedom regarding the direction of the PhD. The student will use GPS measurements of tidal motion and finite element modelling to explore how the tides affect ice flow and uncover new insights which are of direct relevance to future sea level predictions.

You will be a part of the largest ice dynamics research group in the UK, working together on a wide variety of current problems in glaciology. This project will be in collaboration with MSC software, a pioneer of finite element technoology and now world leading provider of simulation software used extensively in the aerospace and automotive industries. You will be supported by expert developers at the company and will spend time working at MSC software where you will have the opportunity to test state of the art finite element tools applied to glaciological problems. During the course of your PhD there will also be the opportunity to attend summer schools in Svalbard and the Alps to gain further skills in glaciology and fieldwork, as well as national and international conferences.

Key Research Gaps and Questions:

What are the mechanisms responsible for generating large tidal modulation of ice flow and how are these tidal signals transmitted so far inland?

What can we learn about ice dynamics by observing its complex response to tidal forcing?

Prerequisites:

A student with strong numerical skills and good background in physics or environmental sciences and programming would be well suited for this project. An undergraduate degree in physics, mathematics or earth/environmental sciences is essential. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact Sebastian Rosier ()

Funding Notes

These are (3.5 year) fully funded PhD studentship awards available for entry September 2019. Each award includes fees (Home/EU), an annual living allowance (£14,777) and a Research Training Support Grant (for travel, consumables, as required).

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