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The West Antarctic Ice Sheet and climate: slow decline or sudden collapse (STEVENSU16SF)

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  • Full or part time
    Prof D Stevens
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Scientific background

There is observational evidence that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is thinning, raising the alarming possibility that it may be in the early stages of collapsing. An obvious impact of such an event is a significant contribution to a future rise in global sea level. Less well-known is the impact of the changing shape of a future Antarctica on climate as the ice melts. For instance, Antarctica displays katabatic winds, which flow from the interior to the ocean, and can reach hurricane-force in strength. These winds can have a profound impact on the oceans and ice that surround the continent, and can indirectly affect climate on global scales.

It is unknown whether changing katabatic winds associated with a changing ice sheet will produce a positive feedback that could accelerate a collapse in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, or a negative feedback which might slow the ice-sheet’s decline.

Research Methodology

The aim of the studentship is to explore the impact of a thinning West Antarctic Ice Sheet on regional and global climate using a hierarchy of mathematical models including a state-of-the-art Earth system model used for climate prediction. The response of the climate system to changes in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will be examined using key variables such as katabatic wind strength, ocean temperature, and sea-ice distribution.

Training and research environment

You will join an active research group at UEA. You will be trained in modelling the climate system and you will learn to use state-of-the-art computer systems to run and rigorously analyse climate models. You will have the opportunity to present your work at an international conference.

Person specification

We seek an enthusiastic, pro-active student with strong scientific interests and self-motivation. You will have at least a 2.1 honours degree in mathematics, physics, meteorology or oceanography with good numerical ability. Experience of a programming language will be advantageous. This PhD project will suit an applicant intending to start a scientific career in meteorology, oceanography or climate science.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at http://bit.ly/1Jf7KCr

A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. The amount charged annually will vary considerably depending on the nature of the project and applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.

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