PhD opportunities

Title: Detecting ice sheet dynamical imbalance using satellite and meteorological records

Supervisors: Prof Andy Shepherd, Dr Inès Otosaka, Dr Tom Slater

Institute: University of Leeds

Overview

This fully funded project will combine satellite records of ice sheet thickness change with model estimates of surface mass balance to isolate the signal due to changes in ice flow. It has been possible to track changes in ice sheet shape using satellite altimetry since the 1990s. These changes arise due to two main processes: fluctuations in surface mass balance and changes in ice flow. By combining satellite altimetry with estimates of surface mass balance determined from regional climate models, it is possible to isolate the mass balance due to changes in ice flow alone, which is referred to as the ice dynamical imbalance. This project aims to apply and refine this approach to study the detailed pattern of ice dynamical imbalance across the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets using historical and contemporary satellite altimetry. The work is part of the Horizon Europe 2020 PROTECT project, which has a goal to produce robust projections of global sea level rise due to the polar ice sheets on different timescales.

Background

The Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets are major sources of global sea level rise, and their combined rate of ice loss has increased by a factor 6 since the 1990’s. Ice losses from Greenland and Antarctica are now tracking the IPCC’s worst-case climate warming scenario, which predicts a further 15 to 23 cm of sea level rise by the end of the century over and above central estimates.  The trajectory of ice loss is important for society because 110 million people are currently living on coastal areas below the high tide line, and 90 million more are at risk of coastal inundation by 2100 based on sea level projections.

Training & Opportunities

The successful candidate will work under the supervision of Prof Andy Shepherd, Dr Inès Otosaka and Dr Tom Slater within the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at the University of Leeds. CPOM offers a friendly, supportive, and collaborative environment for training and career development as an Earth Observation scientist, with strong links to a wide network of satellite and climate scientists across the UK and internationally. CPOM is hosted within the School of Earth and Environment at Leeds which is a community of around 140 faculty staff, 160 research staff, and 250 postgraduate research students. As an indication of its success, the School was ranked first in the UK for the volume of world leading research in Earth Systems and Environmental Science in the last national Research Excellence Framework assessment.

The candidate will be trained in state-of-the-art geodetic Earth Observation techniques throughout the project, including algorithm development, data processing, and software engineering. The candidate will also receive support and training in academic writing and presentation and will have the opportunity to publish in high-impact journals and to present their work at workshops, meetings, and conferences. In addition, the candidate will have access to a broad range of training offered by the University of Leeds in areas including scientific programming, science communication and career development.

The candidate

The project suits numerate candidates with a degree in a discipline such as Physics, Mathematics, Earth Sciences, Engineering, Computer Sciences, or Physical Geography and with experience of scientific programming or satellite data processing.

How to apply

Application requirements: A 500 word statement on (i) why you are interested in this project, (ii) which of your skills or experiences makes you a good fit for the project, and (iii) any ideas you have for the direction of your research.

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the University’s website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the research degree you wish to be considered for is Detecting ice sheet dynamical imbalance using satellite and meteorological records as well as Professor Andrew Shepherd as your proposed supervisor.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English language requirements (below).

We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

Eligibility

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline.

Enquiries

For informal enquiries, please contact Professor Andrew Shepherd:  A.Shepherd@leeds.ac.uk, Dr Tom Slater: T.Slater1@leeds.ac.uk or Dr Inès Otosaka: eeino@leeds.ac.uk.

For application enquiries, please contact:env-pgr@leeds.ac.uk

Dates

Deadline for application: Tuesday 31st August 2021

Provisional Interview Date: to be confirmed

Start Date: Friday 1st October 2021

Further details on how to apply: Detecting ice sheet dynamical imbalance using satellite and meteorological records | Project Opportunities | PhD | University of Leeds


Title: Exploring Arctic sea ice variability using satellite and meteorological records

Supervisors: Prof Andy Shepherd, Dr Isobel Lawrence

Institute: University of Leeds

Overview

This fully funded project will exploit the record of Arctic sea ice thickness change acquired by satellite altimeters to investigate its variability over space and time. Sea ice thickness is monitored from space by measuring the height of ice floe surfaces above the surrounding ocean, and assuming they float in hydrostatic equilibrium. Thanks to CryoSat-2, we now have over a decade of Arctic sea ice thickness and volume change measurements outside of summer months. Since 2018, the Sentinel-3A and -3B satellites have added to this record, allowing us to monitor changes in sea ice thickness at synoptic timescales. The project will combine these satellite observations with meteorological data and satellite imagery to provide an improved understanding of the mechanisms that have driven historical retreat and to identify processes that will lead to improved predictions for the future.

Background

Sea ice is a key component of the polar climate system, regulating the exchanges of heat and moisture between the ocean and atmosphere and reflecting solar radiation back into space. Over the past four decades the extent of the Arctic sea ice pack has declined, and now in late summer it covers roughly half the area it did in the late 1970s. This loss has major implications for local ecosystems and for climate processes at lower latitudes. Although it is well understood that the overall decline in Arctic sea ice extent is attributable to anthropogenic climate change there is large year-to-year variability, and understanding the drivers and trajectory of the retreat requires analysis of sea ice thickness observations too.

Training & Opportunities

The successful candidate will work under the supervision of Prof Andy Shepherd and Dr Isobel Lawrence within the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at the University of Leeds. CPOM offers a friendly, supportive, and collaborative environment for training and career development as an Earth Observation scientist, with strong links to a wide network of satellite and climate scientists across the UK and internationally. CPOM is hosted within the School of Earth and Environment at Leeds which is a community of around 140 faculty staff, 160 research staff, and 250 postgraduate research students. As an indication of its success, the School was ranked first in the UK for the volume of world leading research in Earth Systems and Environmental Science in the last national Research Excellence Framework assessment.

The candidate will be trained in state-of-the-art geodetic Earth Observation techniques throughout the project, including algorithm development, data processing, and software engineering. The candidate will also receive support and training in academic writing and presentation and will have the opportunity to publish in high-impact journals and to present their work at workshops, meetings, and conferences. In addition, the candidate will have access to a broad range of training offered by the University of Leeds in areas including scientific programming, science communication and career development.

The candidate

The project suits numerate candidates with a degree in a discipline such as Physics, Mathematics, Earth Sciences, Engineering, Computer Sciences, or Physical Geography and with experience of scientific programming or satellite data processing.

How to apply

Application requirements: A 500 word statement on (i) why you are interested in this project, (ii) which of your skills or experiences makes you a good fit for the project, and (iii) any ideas you have for the direction of your research.

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the University’s website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the research degree you wish to be considered for is Exploring Arctic sea ice variability using satellite and meteorological records as well as Andrew Shepherd as your proposed supervisor.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English language requirements (below).

We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

Eligibility

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline.

Enquiries

For informal enquiries, please contact Professor Andrew Shepherd: A.Shepherd@leeds.ac.uk or Dr Isobel Lawrence: I.R.Lawrence@leeds.ac.uk

For application enquiries, please contact: env-pgr@leeds.ac.uk

Dates

Deadline for application: Tuesday 31st August 2021

Provisional Interview Date: to be confirmed

Start Date: Friday 1st October 2021

Further details on how to apply: Exploring Arctic sea ice variability using satellite and meteorological records | Project Opportunities | PhD | University of Leeds


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