November 2018
Message 49

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[Met-jobs] PhD Understanding changes in monsoon rainfall and circulation

From "Collins, Mat" <>
To "" <>
Date Tue, 13 Nov 2018 15:13:17 +0000

Understanding changes in monsoon rainfall and circulation in CMIP6 projections, NERC GW4+ DTP, PhD in Mathematics studentship Ref: 3313

About the award


Lead Supervisor
Prof Mat Collins University of Exeter College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences
Additional Supervisors
Dr Rob Chadwick (Met Office)
Dr Hugo Lambert University of Exeter College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences
Dr Chris Taylor Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Location: University of Exeter, Streatham Campus, Exeter EX4 4QJ
This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the NERC Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Partnership (GW4+ DTP).  The GW4+ DTP consists of the Great Western Four alliance of the University of Bath, University of Bristol, Cardiff University and the University of Exeter plus five Research Organisation partners:  British Antarctic Survey, British Geological Survey, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Natural History Museum and Plymouth Marine Laboratory.  The partnership aims to provide a broad training in earth and environmental sciences, designed to train tomorrow’s leaders in earth and environmental science. For further details about the programme please see
For eligible successful applicants, the studentships comprises:
  • An index-linked stipend for 3.5 years (currently £14,777 p.a. for 2018/19);
  • Payment of university tuition fees;
  • A research budget of £11,000 for an international conference, lab, field and research expenses;
  • A training budget of £4,000 for specialist training courses and expenses.
Up to 30 fully-funded studentships will be available across the partnership.
Students from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award but no stipend.  Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding.

Project details
Future changes in tropical precipitation have the potential to produce some of the most severe impacts of climate change. This is particularly true in monsoon regions - over two billion people in Asia alone are dependent on monsoon rainfall. Unfortunately, current projections of regional precipitation changes in the tropics are very uncertain across models, inhibiting adaptation planning and providing major challenges for the detection and attribution of observed tropical precipitation trends.
Dynamical shifts in the location of convection have been identified as the primary driver of precipitation change in monsoon regions. However, different monsoons respond in diverse ways, with for example India generally projected to get wetter but the North American monsoon region getting drier. This suggests that the balance of processes driving rainfall change differs between the various monsoon regions. Furthermore, model biases in simulating present-day monsoons imply reduced confidence in projections.
Project Aims and Methods
In order to reduce uncertainty in projections, it is first necessary to improve our understanding of which processes are most important in each region and to quantify the role of model biases. This can lead to emergent constraints.
A new set of experiments (co-ordinated by co-supervisor Chadwick), designed to isolate the influence of different aspects of CO2 forcing on regional climate change, is included in the forthcoming set of CMIP6 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 6 experiments). These will show the balance between the effects of uniform SST warming, patterned SST warming, direct CO2 radiative absorption, the plant physiological response to CO2, and sea-ice changes, for each model and region. Changes in mean climate, seasonality, and daily-scale rainfall will all be examined. The main research questions are:
1) Which aspects of CO2 forcing are most important for driving precipitation and circulation changes in each monsoon region, both for the CMIP6 ensemble mean and inter-model uncertainty?
2) Once the dominant processes are understood, can present-day observations be used to provide emergent constraints on monsoon projections?
3) How do present-day SST biases affect CMIP6 projections of water cycle change in monsoon regions?
Usual GW4+ training plus master-level lecture courses on geophysical fluid dynamics, weather and climate, research methodology. Access to Met Office short courses on modelling, weather and climate.
Mat Collins, 
Joint Met Office Chair in Climate Change, 
College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences,
University of Exeter, Laver Building, 
North Park Road, Exeter, EX4 4QE, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1392 723984
Twitter: @mat_collins

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