January 2020
Message 18

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[Met-jobs] PhD position on Arctic cyclone dynamics at University of Reading - UK/EU applicants

From John Methven <>
To "" <>
Date Mon, 6 Jan 2020 12:30:40 +0000

PhD Position on “Fundamental Mechanisms of Arctic Summer-Time Cyclone Growth and Sea-ice Interaction”


Funded PhD project based at the Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, working within the

Dynamical Processes Research Group and collaborating with the ECMWF and University of Oklahoma.

See for information on eligibility for the funding (including nationality criteria).


Application deadline: 24 January 2020

Interviews: week of 12 February 2020

Start: late September 2020 (duration 3-4 years with funded stipend, fees and research & training grant)


Project summary


As the climate has warmed in response to increasing greenhouse gases, the September minimum in Arctic sea-ice extent has decreased dramatically and

the drift speed of summer Arctic pack ice has increased, attributed to thinner ice. At the same time, human activity has expanded within the Arctic, with

more residents and visitors making use of the reduced sea ice extent for shipping and offshore operations in summer. This has driven demand for forecasts

of weather, ocean and sea-ice state across the Arctic on timescales needed to make decisions, typically ranging from hours to weeks. As we move to the

“new Arctic”, where the marginal ice zone is projected to dominate the summer Arctic Ocean, we anticipate that surface drag will increase due to the

ice floe edges and this may enhance surface interactions with Arctic weather systems. Unfortunately, current forecast skill is more variable in the Arctic than

the northern mid-latitudes. The new frontier in prediction is to model this coupled system with fidelity and skill. Keeley and Mogensen (2018) demonstrated

that forecast skill of the new ECMWF coupled system beats persistence for sea ice predictions and coupling has greatest effect in summer. However,

improvements in Arctic weather system prediction have yet to be realized. Understanding of the physical processes is incomplete.


Arctic cyclones are the dominant type of hazardous weather system affecting the Arctic environment in summer and can also have critical impacts on sea-ice

movement. Cyclone growth is strong in summer because the temperature gradient across the Arctic Ocean shoreline (the “Arctic Frontal Zone”) increases

as the land warms more than the neighbouring ocean and sea ice.


The aim of the project will be to isolate the mechanisms that distinguish Arctic cyclones from the much-studied mid-latitude cyclones and to determine whether

these mechanisms render them less predictable, or whether the coupling with the dynamic sea ice surface beneath is responsible for the lower forecast skill.

Different approaches will then be investigated to see if prediction can be improved.


The project will be based in the world-renowned Department of Meteorology, University of Reading and partner with the ECMWF and University of Oklahoma.

The Department of Meteorology is based on the main campus of the University of Reading which is set in beautiful parkland about 1.5 miles from the centre of Reading.


Student profile:

The project would be suited to a student with a degree in physics, mathematics or science subject with a strong mathematical content. Experience with

computer programming would be good. Prior knowledge of atmospheric and environmental science is desirable, but not essential.



Prof. John Methven,

Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Earley Gate,

PO Box 243, Reading RG6 6BB                               

Tel: +44 (0)118 378 6015






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