PhD: Reconstruction Of Monsoon Dynamics During The Holocene Using Speleothem And Lake-Level Data And Model Simulations.

University of Reading - Geography & Environmental Science, SAGES

Supervisor:  Professor Sandy Harrison

Project Overview:

Palaeoenvironmental data show major shifts in the extent of regional monsoons through the Holocene, primarily in response to changes in insolation. Basic theory suggests that changes in the monsoons are coupled with shifts in the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), driven by changes in hemispheric temperature gradients. However, palaeoenvironmental observations suggest that the picture of north-south anti-phasing of monsoon changes is oversimplified and that changes in the ITCZ and the regional monsoons may be decoupled. Thus, a re-examination of spatial and temporal patterns in monsoon dynamics is required. This project will draw on data syntheses being made by two international consortia: the PAGES Speleothem Isotopes Synthesis and AnaLysis (SISAL) and the Global Lake Status Data Base Consortium (GLSDB). The project will involve analysis and comparison of these datasets to reconstruct the changing extent and magnitude of the northern and southern hemisphere monsoons through the last 12,000 years in response to changing climate forcing. Emphasis will be put on detailed reconstruction of differences in the timing of monsoon expansion and contraction between different monsoon regions. Reconstructed patterns of change will be compared with climate model simulations being made in the international PACMEDY (PAleao-Constraints on Monsoon Evolution and Dynamics) project and by modelling groups participating in the Palaeoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project, in order to elucidate the underlying causes of monsoon changes.


The ideal candidate for this project would have a Masters in an appropriate science, good programming and numerical skills, an understanding of the mechanisms of past climate change, and an interest in applying palaeoclimate information to improve our understanding of earth system dynamics. Good team and communication skills are essential.

Funding Details:  

This PhD position is fully-funded by the ERC project “GC2.0: Unlocking the past for a clearer future".

How to apply:   

Please submit an application for a PhD in Environmental Science at: quoting the reference GS17-195 in the ‘Scholarships applied for’ box which appears within the Funding section.

Application Deadline: 

31st October 2017

Further Enquiries:  


NB: Where a candidate is successful in being awarded funding, this will be confirmed via a formal studentship award letter which is provided separately from any Offer of Admission and which is subject to standard checks for eligibility and other criteria. 

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South East England