October 2014
Message 90

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[Met-jobs] PhD opportunities at the University of Auckland (New Zealand)

From Gilles Bellon <>
Date Fri, 24 Oct 2014 18:39:03 +1300

The Department of Physics at the University of Auckland (New Zealand) is seeking applications for two PhD fellowships starting in 2015 to investigate tropical atmospheric variability on diurnal to intraseasonal scales. The successful applicants will research the following topics:

1. Rainfall over tropical islands
Freshwater supply on tropical islands faces risks due to climate change, such as the salinization of the freshwater lens associated with the rise in sea level, or perturbations associated with a change in precipitation (insufficient recharge in case of droughts, pollution in case of extreme rainfall events). Understanding the precipitation over tropical islands is still a challenge. Tropical islands witness more precipitation than the surrounding oceans. Multiple factors explain this contrast, including the orography and effects of the diurnal cycle of insolation such as the land-sea breezes. The respective roles of the different factors are still to be quantified. Rainfall over islands is also modulated by the larger-scale variability of the tropical climate, on time scales of a few weeks to a few years. The project aims at better understanding the factors that control precipitation over tropical islands and its variability at diurnal to intraseasonal scales, using observations and both cloud-resolving and idealized models.

2. Atmospheric response to tropical diabatic heating
The interaction between latent heat release by condensation in the clouds and the atmospheric circulation is at the heart of many features of the tropical climate such as hurricanes, monsoons, and modes of intraseasonal variability (on timescales between 10 and 90 days). The most prominent mode of intraseasonal variability is called the Madden-Julian Oscillation; it is characterized by the eastward propagation of a large group of clouds from the equatorial Indian Ocean to the Pacific, and its prediction would open perspectives for long-term weather forecast (up to one month) in the Australasian region. However, how this group of clouds forms and propagates is not perfectly understood and poorly simulated in the state-of-the-art weather forecast models. Many questions remain about the role of the circulation associated with these clouds in the development and propagation of the Madden-Julian Oscillation. The project aims to develop a better understanding this circulation by using models of the tropical atmosphere of increasing complexity, from idealized to realistic, and comparing with observations.

Please contact Gilles Bellon ( for more information or to send an application. Applicants will require a strong Honours or Masters degree in a physical sciences discipline and an excellent command of English. They will need to meet the requirements of the University of Auckland’s PhD programme (<>). A good command of mathematics and programming would be an advantage. Applications should include a CV, copies of academic transcripts, a brief (1 page maximum) statement of research experience and aspirations, and the names of at least two people who can provide personal letters of reference.

Projects are based in the Department of Physics at the University of Auckland. The University of Auckland is the most highly rated University in New Zealand, and Auckland is consistently rated as one of the world's top 10 most liveable cities. The tax-free stipend will be $25,000 NZD per year for three years and all tuition fees will be covered. Travel opportunities will be available, including collaboration visits where appropriate. Both projects will be contributing to international collaborative initiatives.

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