January 2016
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[Met-jobs] NERC-funded Ph.D. studentship in climate and ocean sciences at the University of Liverpool

From "Williams, Ric" <>
To "" <>
Cc "Williams, Ric" <>
Date Wed, 6 Jan 2016 12:19:59 +0000

NERC-funded Ph.D. studentship in climate and ocean sciences at the University of Liverpool

Project title:  How is climate variability controlled in the North Atlantic? 

Supervisors:   Prof. Ric Williams (Liverpool), Dr Vassil Roussenov (Liverpool) 
External supervisors and institution:   Dr Doug Smith (Hadley Centre); Prof. Susan Lozier (Duke University, USA). Approved as a UK Met Office studentship


This studentship examines how climate change is operating in the North Atlantic Ocean. The general expectation for climate change is that the ocean is warming and there is a stronger freshwater cycle. However, analysis of historical data reveals a more complex response in the North Atlantic. There are extensive regions of warm and salty anomalies, changing in time to cool and fresh anomalies, and then returning to warm and salty anomalies [Lozier et al., 2008, Science; Williams et al., 2014, J. Climate]. This studentship aims to investigate how this ocean variability is controlled, addressing both the issue of natural variability and the imprint of climate forcing.

Project Summary:
The studentship aims to investigate the mechanisms by which climate variability is occurring in the North Atlantic, including why there is a more complex regional response than the expected basin-scale signals of surface warming and a strengthening in the freshwater cycle. 

The studentship will examine the following research questions:
* Ocean redistribution of heat and salt often obscures the expected climate-change signals of surface warming and a strengthening in the freshwater cycle, as well as potentially affecting the signature in surface warming;
* Surface forcing generally induces density anomalies in the surface ocean, which are communicated over the basin through changes in the ocean circulation and overturning;  
* Part of the surface forcing of temperature and salinity is density compensated and will form warm and salty or cold and fresh anomalies. These opposing temperature and salinity anomalies are relatively persistent and long lived, as these density-compensated signals do not alter the circulation.  Temperature and salinity contrasts over the ocean basin are then possibly formed via a passive advection of density-compensated signals by the background circulation.
The studentship will be part of the NERC funded UK-OSNAP programmme: Overturning in the  Subpolar North Atlantic,, designed to understand how the temperature and salinity properties of the high latitude North Atlantic are controlled. The student will have an extended visit to work with Professor Susan Lozier (Duke University, USA), who leads the international OSNAP programme, as well as attending national meetings and having the opportunity to participate in fieldwork.

The plan of work for the student involves:
1. Analyse the climate variability using historical data in the North Atlantic.  
2. Compare the temperature and salinity anomalies in the historical data with the implied anomalies induced by air-sea heat and freshwater fluxes;
3. Assess how the climate anomalies are communicated over the basin and how persistent climate anomalies are formed by integrating ocean circulation experiments. The ocean anomalies can either contain density anomalies or be density-compensated with opposing temperature-salinity anomalies;  
4. The student will analyse recent subpolar North Atlantic data being gathered from the ongoing UK-OSNAP programme, comparing observations of temperature, salinity and density changes in the subpolar gyre with implied diagnostics of the heat and freshwater transport into the subpolar gyre.

Our studentships are funded by NERC and are available to UK nationals and other EU nationals that have resided in the UK for three years prior to commencing the studentship. If you meet this criteria, funding will be provided for tuition fees and stipend. If you are a citizen of a EU member state you will eligible for a fees-only award.
Applicants should have a strong academic track record with a science degree, such as including Ocean Sciences, Meteorology, Mathematics, Physics or Engineering. The project involves analysing data and integrating ocean models, so that the student needs to have an aptitude for quantitative work. 

Application process: 
To apply follow the instructions at

Deadline: 4 February 2016

Informal inquiries may be directed to: Ric Williams (  
Full details of the project, see

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