PhD Studentship: Breaking Internal Tides in the Tropical Indian Ocean

University of East Anglia - School of Environmental Sciences

Start Date: October 2018

Supervisor: Dr Robert Hall

Project description: Scientific Rationale

The Indian Ocean is the least studied of the three main ocean basins but contains a wide variety of complex and contrasting bathymetric features, from island chains and mid-ocean ridges to fluvial fans and abyssal trenches. Some of these features generate internal tides (large-amplitude subsurface waves) that radiate away into the interior of the ocean, transporting tidal energy and driving the turbulent mixing and upwelling that helps to close the global thermohaline circulation – a critical component of the climate system. The distribution and behaviour of internal tides in the Indian Ocean is poorly understood.

However, recent observations using novel autonomous ocean gliders and conventional ship-board instruments, along with increased resolution of satellite-measured ocean bathymetry, now make it possible to undertake a detailed analysis of internal tide dynamics in the tropical Indian Ocean.

Research Methodology

During this project you will use a suite of regional ocean models to simulate the internal tide around the Mascarene Plateau and Andaman Island archipelago. You will identify the key internal tide generation sites and test the sensitivity of generation to bathymetric resolution. Using recent Seaglider observations from the Bay of Bengal and a CTD/LADCP survey around the Mascarene Plateau, you will then investigate the radiation of internal tides away from these generation sites, internal wave breaking processes, and calculate their rate of dissipation to estimate the amount of internal tide driven mixing in the region.

Advanced Training

You will be trained in numerical modelling of ocean dynamics and innovative methods for data processing, analysis and visualisation. You will participate in a research cruise where you will gain experience in practical oceanographic methods and as part of the UEA Glider Science Group ( be involved with the deployment and piloting of gliders during upcoming observational campaigns.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 12/13 February 2018.

Successful candidates who meet RCUK’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship - in 2017/18, the stipend is £14,553. In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a stipend. For non-UK EU-resident applicants NERC funding can be used to cover fees, RTSG and training costs, but not any part of the stipend. Individual institutes may, however, elect to provide a stipend from their own resources. 

For further information, please visit

Person specification: The candidate will have a physical science degree or similar (e.g., oceanography, meteorology, physics, environmental sciences, engineering, mathematics; 2.1 or above or Masters required). Experience of computer programming (e.g., Matlab, Fortran) is an advantage. Training in physical oceanography will be provided so a background in ocean science is not required.

EnvEast welcomes applicants from quantitative disciplines who may have limited background in environmental sciences. Excellent candidates will be considered for an award of an additional 3-month stipend to take appropriate advanced-level courses in the subject area.

Funding notes: This project has been shortlisted for funding by the EnvEast NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, comprising the Universities of East Anglia, Essex and Kent, with over twenty other research partners. Undertaking a PhD with the EnvEast DTP will involve attendance at mandatory training events throughout the course of the PhD.

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