College funded PhD Studentship in Mathematics: Causes and Effects of Antarctic sea ice trends Ref: 2597

College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

University of Exeter

Location: Streatham Campus, University of Exeter, EX4 4QJ

Primary Supervisor: Dr James Screen

Secondary Supervisor: Professor Mat Collins

Project Description:

Sea ice covers about 12% of the Earth’s ocean and plays a critical role in the climate system. Whilst the globe has warmed and Arctic sea ice cover has dramatically declined over past decades, paradoxically, Antarctic sea ice cover has increased. Whilst many possible causes have been proposed for this increase – including the Antarctic ozone hole, increased glacial melt leading to fresher (easier to freeze) surface waters, changing wind patterns, and multi-decadal natural oceanic variability – their relative roles remain poorly understood. Furthermore, climate models do not reproduce this increase. When run with observed changes in radiative forcing (due to e.g. greenhouse gases), state-of-the-art models suggest that Antarctic sea ice cover should have declined. This begs the question: why are the models apparently wrong? The same models robustly predict large losses of Antarctic sea ice in the future. But should we believe these models if they cannot reproduce past trends? Will the next generation of models – becoming available during this lifetime of this project – do a better job? If Antarctic sea ice continues to increase in the future, how might this effect the wider Southern Hemisphere climate? Of special interest is the dramatic drop in Antarctic sea ice in late 2016, what caused this and whether it could signal a turning point in Antarctic sea ice trends, from a sustained period of sea ice growth to future sea ice loss? This fully funded 3.5-year project will address these and related questions using a combination of observational analysis and climate modeling.

The successful candidate will work under the primary supervision of Dr James Screen, a leading international expert in polar climate variability and change, within the Exeter Climate Systems group of the Department of Mathematics. The project is in collaboration with Professor Mat Collins at the University of Exeter and Dr Tom Bracegirdle at the British Antarctic Survey. There will be opportunities for the candidate to collaborate with scientists working on the Natural Environment Research Council funded Large Grant on “Robust spatial projections on real world climate change” (lead by Collins). The successful candidate will gain skills in statistical tools for climate science, running climate models, the analysis of large data sets and preparation of scientific journal papers.

Contact for Informal Enquiries: For more information about the project and informal enquiries, please contact the primary supervisor, Dr James Screen

Application Criteria:

You should have or expect to achieve at least a 2:1 Honours degree, or equivalent, in Meteorology, Oceanography, Mathematics or similar. Experience in Climate Science is desirable.

If English is not your first language you will need to meet the English language requirements and provide proof of proficiency. Click here for more information and a list of acceptable alternative tests.

Funding information

Funding applies to:
Open to applicants from a range of countries
Funding notes:

3.5 year studentship including UK/EU/International tuition fees plus a stipend equivalent to the RCUK rate (£14,553 for 2017/18)

Contacts and how to apply

Administrative contact and how to apply:

For further information and details of how to apply please see here.

Application deadline:

1 May 2017